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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies (14th: 1980: University of Birmingham) The Byzantine saint / edited by Sergei Hackel.

p. cm.

Originally published: London: Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergi us, 1981, as learned

papers presented at the 14th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies.

Includes index. ISBN 0-88141-202-3

l. Christian saints-Byzantine Empire-Congresses. l. Hackel, Sergei. II. Title.

BX380.S64 1980b


ST VLADIMIR'S SEMINARY PRESS 575 Scarsdale Road, Crestwood, New York, 10707-1699 1-800-204-2665

First published in 1981 by the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergi us, London.

Learned papers presented at the

Fourteenth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham.

All Rights Reserved

ISBN 0-88141-202-3




'The Byzantine Saint': The XIV th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies


Pachomios and the Idea of Sanctity Hellenistic and Oriental Origins


The Politicisation of the Byzantine Saint The Political Saint of the Eleventh Century

The Byzantine Holy Man in the Twelfth Century Saints and Sainthood in the Early

Palaiologan Period Saintete et Pouvoir The Holy Fool


The 'Low Level' Saint's Life in the Early Byzantine World

The Saint as a Symbol

St Polychronius and his Companionsbut which Polychronius?

The Acta Sanctorum and Bollandist Methodology Self-Canonisation: the 'Partial Account' of Nikephoros Blemmydes


The Traffic in Relics: some Late Roman Evidence E.D. Hunt 171

The Role of the Byzantine Saint in the

Development of the Icon Cult Nicholas Gendle 181

The Mass-Produced Byzantine Saint (summary) David Buckton 187

The Forty in Art (summary) Zaga A. Gavrilovic 190

The Iconography of the Byzantine Saint in the

Illuminations of the Eleventh and Twelfth


Illustrations Acknowledgements Abbreviations

Centuries (summary)

The Panegyris of the Byzantine Saint



Sergei Hackel
Anthony Bryer 4
Henry Chadwick 11
Han J. W Drijvers 25
Susan Ashbrook Harvey 31
Rosemary Morris 43
_ Paul Magdalino 51
Ruth Macrides 67
Evelyne Patlagean 88
Lennart Ryden 106 Robert Browning Michel van Esbroeck

117 128

Anna Crabbe 141

Flor Van Ommeslaeghe 155--

Joseph A. Muniti: 164

Vera D. Likhacheva Spe ros Vryonis Jr.

195 196

229 232




Martyrdom of St Thekla. Detail from the Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastes. BM Add MSS 11870 f 174v, c.early 12th century. Photo by courtesy of the Courtauld Institute of Art. On the panegyris of St Thekla see 200-2 below.

1 Daniel the Stylite. Fresco by Theophanes the Greek, Church of the Transfiguration (Spas Preobrazheniia na Il'ine), Novgorod, 1379. Photo: A.I Komech (G.I Vzdomov, Freski Feofana Greka v tserkvi

Spasa Preobrazheniia v Novgorode [1976J). 36

2 Anonymous sty lite. Stone. relief Hama Museum, Syria, c. 5th-6th

century. Photo: C Mango. 119

3 Irons won by an ascetic (siderophoros), displayed at Xenophontos,

Athos. Photo: Robert Byron (by courtesy of the Courtauld Institute

of Art). 125

4 Martyrdom of St Sophia and her children. From the Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastes. BM Add MSS 11870 f 132v, c. early 12th

century. Photo by courtesy of the Courtauld Institute of Art. 131

5 Title page of Heribert Rosweyde's prospectus Fasti Sanctorum, pub-

lished at Antwerp in 1607. From the original (Col/ege Saint Michel,

Brussells), by courtesy of the Societe des Bollandistes. 157

6 Title page of the first volume of Acta Sanctorum, published by Jean

Bolland at Anvers in 1643. Reproduced from an anastatic print pro-

vided by courtesy of the Societe des Bollandistes. 159

7 The protomartyr Stephen. Mosaic formerly in the church of the Arch-

angel Michael, Kiev (now displayed at St Sophia, Kiev). Byzantine

master, 1111-12. Photo: v.N. Lazarev, Mikhailovskie mozaiki (1966). 173

8 (a) St Michael. Moulded glass medallion (21. 7 x 16.6 mm], British Museum M & LA S.947. Drawing: David Goodger.

(b) St George. Carved bloodstone cameo (40.9 x 28.2mm), British Museum M & LA 1916, 11-8, 1. Drawing: Carey Miller.

(c) St Demetrios. Moulded glass medallion (30.0 x 25.6mm), British

Museum M & LA 70, 11-26, 16. Drawing: Carey Miller. 189


9 (a) Vision of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:5-18). Detail from the
fresco in the narthex at Lesnovo (vault above the north wall), 1349.
Photo: G. Millet and T. Velmans, La peinture du moyen age en
Y ougoslavie iv ( 196 9).
(b) Mystical investiture of tsar Dusan and his wife. Fresco in the
narthex at Lesnovo (north wall), 1349. Photo: G. Millet and T.
Velmans (1969). 191
10 The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. Fresco in the narthex at Lesnovo (west
wall), 1349. Photo: G. Millet and T. Velmans(1969}. 193
11 Martyrdom of St Pamphilos and his companions. Miniature from the
Menologion gr.9 f 229r, State Historical Museum, Moscow, 11th
century. Photo: V. Likhacheva. 195
12 Procession in Corfu at the pansgyris of St Spyridon, whose relics are
borne beneath the baldachin. Photo: L. Durrell, The Greek Islands
(1978). 197
13 Liturgical procession of the type which took place at Byzantine pane-
gyreis. Miniature from the Menologion of Basil Il. Vat. gr. 1613f142'.
Photo: courtesy of the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies,
Washington DC. 205
14 'Praising the Lord'. Detail of a fresco in the chapel of the Panagia
Koukouzelissa, Great Lavra, Athos, 18th century. Photo: S. Kadas,
Mount Athos (1979). 221
15 Panzgyris of St George at Prinkipo, Princes' Islands, Sea of Marmara
(23 April OS 1908). Previously unpublished photograph taken from
the glass plate negative of Sir Benjamin Stone. Reproduced by per-
mission of the Sir Benjamin Stone Collection, Birmingham Public
Libraries. 227
16 Hagiogeography of the Byzantine world. A map of major patrons,
shrines and translations by A.A.M. Bryer and J.L. Dowling. 228 Flyleaf

The Forty Martyrs of Sabaste.



In the preliminary stages of this project I received invaluable help from members of the Sobomost/ECR editorial board: Dr Sebastian Brock, the Revd Dr Robert Murray SJ, the Revd Norman Russell and the V Revd Dr Kallistos Ware. The Secretary of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius (our publisher), the Revd Gareth Evans, gave guidance on the business side of the publication. Professor Anthony Bryer made the original proposal that we should consider it, participated in the planning of it, and provided willing and effective help on a number of occasions as the work proceeded. Dr James Shiel and the Revd Norman Russell offered advice on problems of transliteration. The Revd Norman Russell also generously shared in the work of proofreading and compiled the index. But in the end, the editor's is a lonely task, and his remains the responsibility for editorial deficiencies. Their number will have been augmented by the brave/foolhardy decision to make these papers available well before the year is out in which they were delivered.


In virtually every case periodicals and serials are cited in accordance with the list of abbreviations given in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 27 (1973), 329-39. Works not listed there are usually cited in full. Recurrent citations of articles or books has led to an uneasy mixture of short titles, op.cit. (where the previous mention of the title was in close proximity) or op.cit. with reference to the antecedent note (where this was further off), There may be some inconsistency, but there should be no lack of clarity. Where page references have been followed by references to paragraphs or lines the subordinate reference is preceded by a full stop. Synopsis 527.28-528.1 thus brings one from page 527 line 28 to the first line of the following page. But if paragraphs rather than lines are at issue, reference to the work itself will immediately reveal it. For the same reason there has been no attempt to distinguish references to page or column from each other.



THE building of Pachomios' wall at Tabennisi, with which this symposium opens. speaks of the monastic's intention to withdraw from the world;' the setting up of the stylite's pillar involves withdrawal even from such a koinobion as the wall was set up to safeguard. Yet the ascetic's very separateness made an impact on the society with which he parted ways.2 In the evaluation of this separateness the innocent Byzantine might occasionally be misled or manipulated by charlatans, who did their best to blur the distinction between the physical incidentals of ascesis and its ultimate atms. ' But in general Byzantine society was not to be disenchanted by that part which Gibbon thought to be the whole. The holy man had his accepted role in high and low society alike."

For some holy men it was a role which was more or less coterminous with their lives. For others it was to be adapted and extended far beyond death. Their reputation as members of the Kingdom was to outlive the Empire itself. Hagiographers.f hymnographers," iconographers," pilgrims'' and patrons of panegyreis9 helped to

1. Henry Chadwick, 'Pachomios and the Idea of Sanctity', 11-24. This reference like most of those that follow, is to a paper published below.

2. So much is implicit in many of the contributions to this volume, but see in particular Han J.W. Drijvers, 'Hellenistic and Oriental Origins' and Susan Ashbrook Harvey, 'The Politicisation of the BYZantine Saint'.

3. Paul Magdalino, 'The Byzantine Holy Man in the Twelfth Century', 51-{)6. As is noted by Lennart Ryden, 'The Holy Fool', 111-12, there were also spurious salol.

4. On high society see in particular Rosemary Morris, 'The Political Saint in the Eleventh Century'; Ruth Macrides, 'Saints and Sainthood in the Early Palaiologan Period'; and Evelyne Patiagean, 'Saintete et Pouvoir'. On low society see Robert Browning, 'The "Low Level" Saint's Life in the Early Byzantine World' and Speros Vryonis Jr, 'The Panegyris of the Byzantine Saint: A study in the nature of a medieval institution, its origins and fate'.

5. The work of hagiographers is variously treated by Robert Browning, 'The "Low Level" Saint's Life'; Michael van Esbroeck, 'Le Saint cornme Symbole'; Anna Crabbe, 'St Polychronius and his Companions - but which Polychronius?"; Flor Van Ommeslaeghe, 'The Acta Sanctorum and Bollandist Methodology'.

6. Hymnography was not separately treated at the Symposium and the subject plays no significant part in any of the papers given below.

7. Nicholas Gendle, 'The role of the Byzantine Saint in the Development of the Icon Cult" also summaries of the papers by David Buckton, 'The Mass-produced Byzantine Saint' and Vera Likhacheva, 'The Iconography of the Byzantine Saint in Illuminations of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries' (together with illustrations 1,2,4,7-11 and the frontis-

piece and endpapers). '



ensure that their memory would be perpetuated. Those who gained recognition as saints10 are not forgotten in those parts of the world which harboured them or their relics.l! To a greater or lesser degree they are commemorated by the Orthodox world at large. Some have gained acclaim in both East and West.

Such acclaim is now tempered by the scrutiny to which (largely Western) scholarship has subjected Lives and reputations. The heritage bequeathed by Rosweyde and Bollandus is a weighty one. 2 Both Bollandists and their admirers continue to enrich it. 13 The pious lay observer may be outraged and dismayed by the consequences of their work.l" But in the end it can only be someone like the dreadful Blemmydea'f or the fake holy man16 who might be interested in the maintenance of spurious reputations.

Scholarship is committed to the establishment of truth. The Church, for her part, should be willing to accept nothing less. This was already the burden of Bollandus' title page of 1643, where ERVDITIO and VERITAS are prominently displayed and juxtaposed,"? There is always a need to distinguish and to preserve Tradition from traditions.

At the same time traditions, superstitions and myths are justly valued by historians. They provide a vital - often the principal - gauge for a study of the popular mind. A panegyris,18 a memento l? or a mass-produced image20 of a saint is likely to reveal more of this mind than the most stylish Life or mosaic. The Bollandist's chaff may thus prove to be the social historian's grain. And the study of the Byzantine saint may become (as often in this volume) the study of his clientele.

8. E.D. Hunt, 'The Traffic in Relics; some Late Roman Evidence'.

9. Vryonis, :Panegyris'.

10. As is noted by Ruth Macrides, aspects of the Byzantine canonisation procedure remain to be explored (83-7). Constantinopolitan methods were never to match those of Rome, though in the early Palaiologan period the established practice of local canonisation was to lose favour in preference to canonisation by synodal decree. Whether or not this was under Western influence remains an open question.

11. See the map, 'Hagiogeography of the Byzantine World', 228.

12. A survey of this heritage is given by Van Ommeslaeghe, 'Acta Sanctorum',

13. See for example the papers of Michel van Esbroeck and Anna Crabbe.

14. Considerable changes in the Roman General Calendar were legitimised by the motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis of 14 February 1969 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 61 [1969], 222-6) and defmed in Notitiae 5 (1969), 159-202. Justification for the changes (which came into effect 1 January 1970) is provided in Calendarium Romanum (Vatican 1969), 63-149. I am grateful to Fr Norman Russell for these references.

15. See Joseph A. Munitiz, 'Self-canonisation: the "Partial Account" of Nikephoros


16. See n.3. above.

17. Reproduced below, 159.

18. Vryonis, 'Panzgyris'.

19. Hunt, 'Traffic in Relics'.

20. Buckton, 'Mass-produced Saint'.



Even the superannuated saint may therefore have a humble function to perform; while the dignity of his authentic counterpart ('in whose companionship the heaven exults; in whose guardianship the earth rejoices; by whose triumphs holy Church is crowned,)21 can never be impugned or diminished.

21. Bede, Sermon for All Saints Day, PL 94.450 (tr. I.M. Neale in Famous Sermons by English Preachers, ed. D. Macleane [London 1911), 2).


'The Byzantine Saint':

The XIVth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies


SINCE 1967 the University of Birmingham's Committee for Byzantine Studies (which became a graduate Centre in 1976)1 has held an annual course on a Byzantine topic for the University's Department of Extramural Studies, usually during the last weekend of the spring term. Over the last decade this meeting has assumed the trappings of an international conference under the aegis of the British National Committee of the International Byzantine Association (which meets at it). So it attempts to serve British Byzantinists in a peculiarly international field and regularly attracts participants from over a dozen countries. Up to 250 people (the limit of the Symposium's capacity) come to take part in it. But the Centre has not forgotten that its spring symposia are essentially no more than night schools, open to all who apply in time: furthermore it is recognised that their quality (and the XIVth was regarded as a particularly good meeting) does not depend only on the designated speakers. It is a pleasure also to acknowledge the Centre's debt to an anonymous benefactor, without whom the symposia could not be held with such gusto.

Papers given at earlier symposia are scattered in various journals. Videotapes were made at the VIIth (1973), VIIIth (1974), XIth (1977) and XIIth (19781 symposia; publication of their proceedings as a whole began with the IXth (1975).

1. See G. Every, 'Byzantium at Birmingham', ECR ix (1977), 109-10. Philip Howard contributed 'A positively Byzantine affair in Birmingham' to The Times, 22 March 1980.

2. The following are available on application to the Secretary, Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT:

One hour Videotapes (at price of tape, for bona fide teaching purposes): The Ceremonies of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (1973); Byzantine Society and Economy (1974); and Mark Antonios Foskolos, Fourtounatos (1976).

Papers and catalogues: H.A.L. Lidderdale, The (Greek) War of Independence in Pictures (1976); P.o. Whitting, Catalogue of an Exhibition of Coins from the 'Mardin' hoard (1977); W. Farag, The fflIct! of Safar A.H. 359 - December-January 969/970 (1977); S. Karpov, The Empire of Trebizond in Venice in 1374·76 (1978) and A. Bryer,A Cadaster of the Great Estates of the Empire of Trebizond (1978).

Of collected papers given at Symposia, Iconoclasm (IXth, 1975), ed. A. Bryer and J.

Herrin (reviewed in ECR x (1978)165-9), is out of print. Byzantium and the Classical Tradition (XIIth, 1979), ed. M. MuBett and R. Scott, will be published by the Centre in late 1980. The Byzanti1te Black Sea (XIIth, 1978) was published as a special volume of the Archeion Pontou 35 (1979) and is available at $ 22/£ 1 0 from the General Secretary, Epitrope Pontiakon Meleton, Kolokotronis 25, Athens 125, Greece.



The Centre is most grateful to Dr Sergei Hackel and the editorial board of Sobomost] Eastern Churches Review for publishing a selection of papers from the XNth Symposium (22-25 March 1980) in this volume.

The XIVth Symposium

The 1980 Conference was directed by a committee of the Centre's staff and students: Susan Ashbrook, Dr J. Neville Birdsall, Mary Cunningham, Dr John Haldon and Dr Frances Young, with Professor Anthony Bryer, its Director, as Symposiarch. It took up the theme of the Vth (1971) Symposium, on 'Asceticism in the early Byzantine World', at which Peter Brown raised the question of 'The Role of the Holy Man in the Early Byzantine World'.

Since 1971 the posthumous career of the Byzantine holy man has flourished mightily, not least at the hands of Professor Brown, and it seemed high time to take stock. 3 But the committee was anxious to open out the topic to the whole phenomenon of 'The Byzantine Saint' by calling upon speakers as various as the Byzantine saint himself. Among visitors, two Bollandists, guardians of an awesome tradition of hagiographical scholarship, were especially welcome; but it was intriguing to find that all participants spoke much the same scholarly language. A consensus emerged at the Symposium which is equally recognisable in these pages. The only thing which all Byzantine saints have in common is the source of their spiritual power. But the strength of their authority is marvellously demonstrated by the manner in which the Byzantine saint used it in the world; and it is on this demonstration that these papers concentrate.

Origins and Lives

The first day of the symposium, which was opened by Dr John Ferguson, the new President of Selly Oak Colleges, discussed The Origins and Lives of the Byzantine Saint. The Revd Professor Henry Chadwick (Cambridge) spoke on 'Pachomios and the Idea of Sanctity?". This is published below (together with other papers which are asterisked). Dr Sebastian Brock (Oxford and Birmingham)" chaired a session on the pre-Christian origins of the Byzantine saint at which Dr Geza Vermes (Oxford) concluded that principal of 'Jewish Origins' was Christ himself; Professor Han Drijvers (Groningen) spoke on 'Hellenistic and Oriental Origins'>; and Garth Fowden (Washington, now Cambridge) on 'Pagan Asceticism'. Sam Lieu (Warwick) gave a communication on 'Buddhist Influence in early Christian Asceticism?' which will be published as part of a larger work.

A session on the lives of the Byzantine saint (which was all too brief) was chaired by Dr J. Neville Birdsall (Birmingham). The Revd Flor Van Ommeslaeghe SJ (Bollandist) spoke on 'The Acta Sanctorum and Bollandist Methodology' •.


Cf. P.R.L. Brown, 'The Rise and .Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity', JRS 61 (1971), 80-101; also H. Mayr-Harting, 'Functions of a twelfth-century recluse" History 60

(1975),337-52. '

See Sebastian Brock 'The Byzantine Saint', Sobomost/ECR 2:2 (1980), 7S.f,.



Professor Robert Browning (London) considered' "Low-style" Saints' Lives'*, while Professor fhor ~evlenko (Harvard and Oxford) gave a paper on ' "High-style" Saints' Lives' which is to be published (with a textual appendix) in the Analecta Bollandiana. Dr Anna Crabbe (Belfast) spoke on 'Hagiography and the Narrative Straightjacket'. But it has been agreed this might be more appropriately published with the papers of the XIIIth (1979) Symposium (Byzantium and the Classical Tradition), while the paper which she gave then ('Polychronius and his Companions - but which Polychronius?')* would be most at home in this volume. In addition Jelizaveta Allen (Dumbarton Oaks) gave a communication on the 'Author Index of Byzantine Literature' which she is preparing.

The Byzantine Saint in the World

The second day of the symposium concentrated on The Byzantine Saint in the World. Professor Evelyne Patlagean (paris) gave the main paper on 'Sanctity and Power'*. Dr John Haldon (Birmingham) chaired a discussion on the Byzantine Saint in Politics, with contributions by Susan Ashbrook [Harvey] on 'The Politicisation of the Byzantine Saint'*; Professor George Huxley (Belfast) on 'The Byzantine Saint in Iconoclasm'; and Dr Rosemary Morris (Manchester) on 'The Political Saint in the Eleventh Century'*. The theme was taken up in communications by Nicholas Couchman (Durham) on 'The Attitude of F acundus, Bishop of Hermionas, towards Emperor Justinian I in his "Three Chapters Controversy" '; Dr Lowell Clucas (Munich) on 'John Italos and John of Damascus'; Dr Paul Magdalino (St Andrews) on 'The Byzantine Holy Man in the Twelfth Century'*; and Dr Ruth Macrides (St Andrews) on 'Anti-Palaiologan Saints' (since revised and renamed)",

The variety of the Byzantine saint was further demonstrated in a session chaired by Rowena Loverance (Birmingham). The Revd Michel van EsbroeckSJ(Bollandist) spoke on 'The Symbolic Saint'*; and Dr Lennart Ryden (Uppsala) on 'The Holy Fool'*.

Communications were offered on texts. Michael Whitby (Oxford) spoke on 'The Greek Hagiography of the Emperor Maurice' (a communication which will form part of a larger work). Dr Warren Treadgold (Munich) discussed 'The deservedly unpublished Life of St Eirene the Empress' - unpublished for it does not exist. The Revd Dr Joseph A. Munitiz SJ (Leuven) presented 'Self-canonisation: the "Partial Account" of Nikephoros Blemmydes'*, which he is editing. Dr Hans- Veit Beyer, the editor of Nikephoros Gregoras, spoke on 'References to the Bible, Patristic Tradition and Religious Experience in a discourse of Gregory the Sinaite'. Mary Cunningham (Birmingham) spoke on 'The Manuscript Tradition of Andreas of Crete's Homily on Lazaros'; and George Every (Oscott and Birmingham) on 'The Lives of the Virgin in PG 120'. Dr David Balfour followed his recent edition of Politico-Historical Works of Symeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica (1416/17 to 1429) with a communication concerning new data on Symeon. Professor Anthony Bryer (Birmingham) described 'The Hagiogeography of Chaldia', followed a series of Pontic Group Passions (beginning with the Forty Martyrs) to St Eugenios of




Trebizond, and asked why the latter's companions were not found sites for their cult in the mountain villages of Chaldia until the fourteenth century, when local lords, coastal emperors and Turkrnen emirs were competing for control of the region.

Cult and Art

The Forty Martyrs were taken up again in a session on the final day which was devoted to The Cult and Art of the Byzantine Saint. This was chaired by Dr Frances Young (Birmingham). Patricia Karlin-Hayter (Birmingham, Dumbarton Oaks, and now Belfast) argued for the authenticity of the Testament of the Forty ('The Forty in History'), while Zaga Gavrilovic (Birmingham) discussed the significance of the' Forty in Art' * * [=summarised below] .

The saint in art was widely discussed. There was a main paper by The Revd Dr Christopher Walter (Paris) on 'Iconodule Saints in the Madrid Skylitzes' (to be published in Revue des etudes byzantines). Another main paper was delivered by Dr Vera Likhacheva (Leningrad) on 'The Iconography of the Byzantine Saint in illuminations of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries'**. Dr Likhacheva illustrated her paper with slides of miniatures in manuscripts which are located in the USSR; one of these miniatures is reproduced below.

Communications were given by Dr Nicholas Gendle (Oxford) on 'The Role of the Ascetic in the development of the Icon Cult, 4th-7th centuries' (since renamed)"; Dr Robin Cormack (London and Birmingham) on a newly-identified icon of 'St George seen through the eyes of Crusader painters' (to be published elsewhere); and Robin Milner-Gulland (Sussex) on 'The Oxford Lazaros: some new considerations'.

Finally the symposium examined The Cult of the Byzantine Saint. Lucy-Anne Hunt (Birmingham) chaired papers by Dr E.D. Hunt (Durham) on 'The Traffic in Relics'<; by David Buckton (British Museum) on 'The Mass-produced Byzantine Saint'**; and by Dr Nancy Sevcenko on 'The St Nicholas Cycle' (which she is to publish in a larger work on the subject). Professor Speros Vryonis Jr (UCLA, Athens and Dumbarton Oaks) concluded the symposium with a lively festival, , The Panegyris of the Byzantine Saint'*.

Although symposiasts regretted that Dr Vladimir Vaviinek (Prague) was unable to come and speak, as he and they had hoped, on Sts Cyril and Methodios, the Byzantine saint was celebrated in other ways. David Buckton brought an exhibition of 54 rarely shown Byzantine ivories, steatites, crosses and gems depicting the Byzantine saint from the British Museum, and Nubar Hampartumian displayed 146 seals and coins showing Byzantine saints in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Catalogues of both exhibitions were given to participants. Through the kindness of the Very Revd Milenko Zebic of St Lazar's, BournvilIe, a film of the monastery of Chilandari, Athos, was shown. There were two reeeptions; and a final feast con-



eluded with a performance of Dufay's Lamentatio Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae of 1454.5


By way of a postscript it may be added that the XVth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies is concerned with 'Byzantium and the Slavs': it will be held in Birmingham on 21-24 March 1981, when the Centre is collaborating with the Medieval Studies Group of the British Universities' Association of Slavists. The XVlth Spring Symposium (1982) on 'The Byzantine Family' will move from Birmingham for the first time. It will be held at Edinburgh, where it will be directed by Dr Michael Angold.



Pachomios and the Idea of Sanctity


To talk of saints is hardly free of controversy. The subject of sanctity and of the means by which it is normally achieved, namely asceticism and renunciation, cannot be altogether a suitable topic for an urbane dinner-party conversation. We have decided that it is all right for an academic symposium, since historically the ideal is of vast consequence; but it may be well if we begin with some recognition that the topic can be divisive.

To most men and women life is beset by noise; and the possibility of chosen silence comes to be felt as a divine gift, at least to that large number of us whose daily round is a succession of trivialities punctuated by frustration, rage, envy, and the rest. ('Telegrams and anger', as E.M. Forster put it.) The pain of ascetic renunciation lies in the forgoing of natural goods, in a deliberate choice that puts the normal activities of human society on the far side of a wall.

But the shining portrait is also felt to have a dark shadow, which we can see depicted in eloquent prose in the pages of Gibbon's chapter on the monastic movement.! To Gibbon and the Enlightenment all monkery is synonymous with superstition of which, if not the creator, it is a fanatical fosterer - fanatical in the sense that it requires a devotion that is impervious to rational consideration. For Gibbon the ascetic life is a religion of 'children and females', a refuge for those who have failed or blundered in this world and seek solace for their misfortune and healing for their remorse. As monasteries came to be recruiting grounds for the episcopate, so the profession was entered by ambitious men hungry for power, who realised how celibacy enhanced their authority. The discipline of the monasteries, Gibbon thinks, is one of repellent, inhuman austerity - the disgraces, confinements, fastings, and bloody flagellations, executed in the name of a religious obedience which is tyranny. 'A cruel unfeeling temper has distinguished the monks of every age', writes Gibbon (in a surely dreadful and gross sentence), a stern indifference inflamed by religious hatred, a merciless zeal put to the service of intolerance and the Holy Office. With all this goes the resentment of lay people when popular monks insinuate themselves into noble households, and vast public and private wealth becomes absorbed in the maintenance of unproductive persons useless to society and enjoying a sacred indolence in the name of holy poverty; a body whose

1. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch.37.



aggressive and useful military spirit is suppressed in the cloister but then reemerges to fight bitter, futile ecclesiastical controversies with implacable hostility. To monks pleasure and guilt are synonymous; and, as for their style of life, 'every sensation offensive to man is acceptable to God'. But for Gibbon they do not falsify the Christian spirit; rather do they supremely exemplify it by acting out the ultimate logic of 'the preaching of patience and pusillanimity'.

Gibbon evidently enjoyed writing his savage indictment. One recalls Porson's

famous review of the Decline and Fall:

An impartial judge, I think, must allow that Mr Gibbon's History is one of the ablest performances of its kind that has ever appeared [ ... J. Nor does his humanity ever slumber, unless when women are ravished or the Christians persecuted [ ... J. He draws out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument [ ... J. A less pardonable fault is that rage for indecency which pervades the whole work, but especially the last volumes.s

Even when one has discounted Gibbon's vehement prejudices, which add such power to the elegance of his mannered prose, modern studies of the Byzantine saint have to recognise that for us modern men the subject can be one of peculiar complexity. Whatever our personal standpoint, we of 1980 do not share many of the assumptions that produced their manner of setting themselves on the road to sanctity. In consequence we are tempted either to tell the stories of their mortifications and then, as was said of Lytton Strachey, ostentatiously refrain from laughing, or we go in search of trendy non-religious explanations of the social needs that created them, It is of course certain that Byzantine saints fulfilled social needs, and it is a proper question to ask how that worked out. I am also sure that a stripping away of their religious motivation will leave the historian with a distorted picture. So in this paper opening the conference, I venture to put some initial questions about the religious presuppositions that underlie the saintly man's role.

Earl)' Christian attitudes

The early Church was a tiny, persecuted body, and the experience sharpened its sense of having different values from the surrounding society. Its ideal was the martyr whose allegiance to his crucified Master was so strong that he preferred death to apostasy. But the second- and especially the third-century churches enjoyed long periods of peace during which their numbers grew to an extent that embarrassed those concerned to maintain standards. Many texts of Origen comment on the to him appalling fact that the churches are packed out with passengers, who come from a mixture of motives, who sit in dark corners of the building reading secular literature while the preacher seeks to expound the word of God, who prefer bishops to be easygoing in the discipline of the laity. In large cities bishops are becoming persons of social consequence cultivated by ladies of wealth and refmement, so that the office comes to be sought for non-religious reasons. Several thirdcentury texts disclose strong debate about the compatibility of office and power

2. Letters to Mr Archdeacon Travis [. .. 1 (London 1790), preface.



with the Christian profession. On the one side, there stand the biblical examples of Joseph and Daniel, holding high office, yet keeping their conscience undefiled. On the other side, a Roman magistrate cannot escape idolatrous pollution and punitive duties; and to Tertullian (On Idolatry, 17-18) the exercise of power and authority is simply incompatible with humility; that is the axiom which already in the fourth century led many 'secular' clergy to withdraw to monasteries and a quiet life. In the seventies of the second century the pagan Celsus was calling the Christians to shoulder public office and to serve in the army (Origen, C eels. viii.75). The thirdcentury Christians did just that, and the more they did so, the greater the pagan apprehension that they aroused.

Already by the middle of the third century two ethical standards were being if not advocated, at least acquiesced in. Origen's 26th homily on Numbers (26.10) distinguishes within Christ's army the front-line troops who fight Satan hand to hand and the many camp followers who support the combat forces but do little or no fighting themselves. A generation later Eusebius of Caesarea (Dem.Evang. L8. 29-30) marks a distinction between (a) those who keep the moral commands of the Decalogue while pursuing trade, farming, soldiering, political life, marriage, and attend church services on special occasions, and (b) those who go beyond what is commanded to keep themselves unencumbered by marriage ties, practise poverty, renounce the world of Vanity Fair, and devote their whole life to God's service.

So the Christians even before Constantine's revolution provide a blueprint for the scene realised after Constantine's conversion, both for the world-renouncing ascetics and for the world-affirming ethic which identifies the res Romana with God's purpose at work through the Church. In either case they are operating with a basic contrast between the Church and the kosmos or saeculum, the earthly city under the dark god of this world (even if only temporarily so), standing in antithesis to the heavenly city of God's Kingdom. Thereby the ascetic Christians create the concept that this world, in its daily business of getting and spending, of political power and social organisation, is a 'secular' entity apart from and perhaps hostile to the true calling of God; certainly going on its way in indifference to and independence of the divine purpose.

'Secularisation' is a complex word for a complicated and ambiguous idea. Its modem use comes from the mid-seventeenth century to apply to the transfer of property from clerical to lay hands; then from being first used for the expropriation of property, it comes to be used of a deeper attempt at expropriation of minds: non licet esse vos, Tertullian quotes the pagans as saying." We should be on our guard against suggestions that secularisation is a modern concept. Both the concept and the vocabulary stem from the ascetic drive in quest of holiness in the preConstantinian Christian tradition, which sought to erect an invisible wall between the Church and the world.

3. Apol. iv.4.



Pachomios' wall

If we ask who first made this invisible wall into a visible entity, we are brought to Pachomios." To him more than to any other single man we owe it that the word 'monk', literally a 'solitary', is one we naturally associate with a community and not with a hermit withdrawn in isolation. Everyone knows that this ex-soldier peasant Copt from upper Egypt, converted from paganism by the impression made on him by Christian charity without regard to membership of the Church, created the koinobion or community of monks and the concept of an 'order' With many monks in several linked houses living under rule. His houses were mainly located in or around the loop of the Nile in the neighbourhood of Dendera (ancient Tentyra). To say 'created' is not actually quite true, of course. From the earliest of the Greek Lives of Pachornios we know that, at the time when he first became a Christian and put himself to school with the laconic hermit Palamon, there were already little groups of semi-anchorites living near one another or together, mainly in twos, though we also hear of a group of five and another of ten. There is high probability that all these were groups of disciples gathered round some master of the path to sanctity. In the earliest Greek Life of Pachomios (cited below as G1) we learn of an otherwise unknown Aotas, remembered for his unsuccessful attempts to form a koinobion, his failure being contrasted with Pachomios' success (G 120). The Coptic tradition recalls how Pachomios too had his initial setback.

But Pachomios is differentiated from all contemporaries and predecessors by the sheer scale of his operations, designed to incorporate large numbers of monks within his society and to subject them to strict discipline. So far as our information goes, Pachomios first makes the enclosure wall of the monastery a physical and not merely a mental fact. The wall was the rust building operation to be undertaken; and we learn that his brother John disapproved of it and tried to dismantle it, since he could see that it spelled the end of anchoritic life as hitherto understood.

4. The earliest Greek Lives with the letter of Ammon and Paralioomena are edited by F.

HaIkin, Sancti Pachomii vitae graecae (SubsHag 18 [1931]), the Coptic translated into French by L. T. Lefort (1943), the Arabic into French by E. Amelineau iAnnales du Musee Guimet 17 (1889)); Jerome's Latin version of the Rule and Letters edited by A. Boon, Pachomia Latina [Bibliotheque de la Revue d'histoire ecclesiastique Fasc.7] (Louvain 1932); Dionysius Exiguus' Latin version of the Life, akin to the second Greek Life, by H. van Cranenburgh (1969). Pachomios' Catechesis, Coptic text edited and translated by Lefort (CSCO 160 (1956)). New material in Hans Quecke, Die Briefe Pachoms (Regensburg 1975) . See also his lecture 'Ein Handvoll Pachomianischer Texte', XIX Deutscher Orientalistentag 1975 (Wiesbaden 1977), 221-9, promising yet further Coptic texts from the Chester Beatty library. H. Bacht edits with commentary the Liber Orsiesi in Das Vermdchtnis des Ursprungs (Wiirzburg 1972). Pachomian scholarship has not welcomed A. Veilleux. La liturgie dans Ie cenobitisme pachomien au quatrieme steele tStudia Anselmiana 37 [1968] );Veilleux summarises his argument in Bibliotheca Sanctorum x (1968). 10-20. and meets rejection from A. de Vogue, RHE 69 (1974),425-63, and D.J. Chitty, JTS 21 (1970), 195-9. Cf. J. Vergote, 'La valeur des vies grecques et coptes de S. Pachorne; Orientalia Lovaniensia periodica 8 (1977), 175-86. Much of the recent bibliography is in Philip Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford 1978).



The wall had evident consequences for the development of the community.f It greatly facilitated the control of the monks within at the same time as it limited access to outsiders, such as members of their families and members of the opposite sex who might distract them from their high purposes. No doubt the wall also served to mark out the frontiers of the monastery in face of encroaching farmers. Above all the wall made a very visible, public statement not merely about the division from the pagan world outside but also about the compromises besetting the normal life of the churches lived out in a pagan world.

One cannot assume that life in the Thebaid in 320 A.D. was so untroubled by Blemmyes or other nomadic marauders that the wall was not intended to serve any defensive purpose. But the Pachomian texts give no hint of this. The likelihood is that Pachomios' wall was simply a self-evidently natural thing for him to build, familiar as he was, after his pagan upbringing, with the walled temenos characteristic of unnumbered Egyptian temples going back to Zoser's funerary complex at Saqqara early in the third millennium B.C. Within his wall Pachomios planned buildings to serve various purposes: houses for groups of monks (each with their distinctive marks), a chapel, a guest house near the gate for visitors, a bakery and cookhouse for preparing food, a depository for the library of codices, another store for clothing. It can hardly be accidental that this general type of organisation is exemplified by pagan complexes in the Nile valley, such as the marvellously preserved Ptolemaic temple at Edfu. So nothing could have seemed more obvious to Pachomios than that his community should be enclosed, and that the wall should be provided with gates and door-keepers to control ingress and egress. If not intended as a fortification wall against marauding tribesmen, the barrier was evidently of sufficient height to deter anyone from going in and out without due authority; and before many years had passed its merits as a defence against barbarian raiding parties seeking prisoners to sell in the slave-markets must have been evident.

The Pachomian Lives

In this paper I shall not discuss at length what everyone knows, namely the sharp controversies of modem scholarship concerning the complex sources for the history of the Pachomian foundations. The Greek, Coptic, and Arabic Lives have each in turn enjoyed zealous advocates of their primacy. After consideration and comparison of the various documents and of the writings of their respective advocates, I believe we ought to conclude that the Arabic tradition and its advocate Pere Veilleux have the least claim to be held in awe, though there are assuredly places where the Arabic text includes good matter. As for the old battleground between the Greek and the Coptic, the subject of hard jousting between Derwas Chitty and L.T. Lefort, scholars to whom all students of the Pachomian texts owe a large debt, there is no very simple choice to be made. Both sets of texts draw on the same

5. H. Torp, 'Murs d'enceinte des monasieres coptes primitifs et couvents-forteresses' Mel Rom 76, 1964), 173-200, has seen the disciplinary, juridical, and temenos signifi~ce of the wall.


puol of tradition, which was originally Coptic and oral, but I do not think it likely that the Greek Vita Prima drew on a prior written Coptic Life. It is composed from a very Greek and Alexandrian viewpoint. Of the Greek and Coptic lives each preserves good tradition neglected in the other strand. Lefort was evidently right in urging that the Coptic merits deep attention. The Coptic biographers offer early strata in the transmission for which we look in vain in the Greek lives.

The consensus of sensible men is that the Greek Vita Prima is a priceless witness from within the Pachomian monastic tradition, but naturally from its Greek speaking minority, perhaps from the Pachomian house at Canopus (Metanoia) mentioned by Jerome in the preface to his Latin version of the Praecepta. The Vita Prima may be dated with reasonable confidence in (or very soon after) 390-400 A.D. The name of Origen is a bogy (G1 31). Moreover there is an emphatic statement (G1 94) that the incomparable honour of the patriarchate of Alexandria, whose occupant the Pachomian monks see as Christ's representative, is not actually personal to Athanasius himself but, by virtue of office, belongs to his successors. This looks like a reflection of Theophilos' well known struggle to retain archiepiscopal authority in relation to the many monasteries within his jurisdiction, where offence had been caused by his initial indications of sympathy for Origen and Evagrios and of hostility towards 'anthropormophites' who wanted to picture God in human form in their prayers.

The Vita Prima is of course more than a Life of Pachomios (though that is the simple title of the manuscript tradition). It includes also the story of his first three or four successors. In particular it is at least as much interested in a biography of his devoted pupil and eventual (perhaps to the regret of the Vita Prima, not immediate) successor Theodore. Pachomios' death may be confidently assigned to 9 May 346 (G1 114-16 and 120), that of Theodore to 27 April probably of either 368 or 371. Much of the dramatic force of the Life turns on the contrast between these two superiors of the order, and on the assertion of an ultimate harmony triumphing over a succession of painful episodes between them.

The author of the Vita Prima is acutely conscious that things are not now what they used to be; in his time there is moral and spiritual decline, and the readers need warnings of the perils of negligence (G1 118). Some monks have an open ambition to be higumen or even to be promoted to the episcopate (G1 126, 118). The old discipline requiring a stem renunciation of family ties has evidently undergone some relaxation (G1 24, 67-8, 74, 80). The portrayals of the intense severity of Pachomios and of the self-extinguishing humility of Theodore are sermons addressed to a generation where discipline has fallen off, so that monks now actively seek posts of honour and leadership which, in the earlier period, they would have accepted only as an act of obedience to their superior.

There are also other indications of the post-Pachomian concerns of the biographical tradition. The author of the Vita Prima is anxious that Pachomios' koinobion (his name for the entire order of monasteries) be ranked on a par with the achievements of Anthony, so sweetly sung by Athanasius. This biography of




Pachomios is intended to do for the founder what the Vita Antonii had done for Anthony. Moreover, the Pachomian houses, it is stressed, had a warm place in Athanasius' heart. How widely known this love was is shown by the fact that the refugee archbishop was vainly sought in the monasteries by the dux Artemius (G1 137-8). In 346 Pachomian monks called upon Anthony who expressed warm approbation of the koinobion as a re-creation of the apostolic koinonia, and added how much he himself would have liked to enter a koinobion had such a thing existed when he began to follow the ascetic life (G1 120). Again, Pachomios once says that 'the three most important things in Egypt are Athanasius, Anthony, and this koinobion' (G1 136). It is stressed that Pachomios and especially Theodore act constantly in reverence for and in harmony with the bishops (G1 27, 29-30, 135, 144), and indeed that when Athanasius came up the Nile on his visitation of the Thebaid Theodore (not at that time superior) laid on a noble reception for him from the monks (G1 144).

Twice the author of the Vita Prima seeks to explain why no contemporary of Pachomios wrote a Life at the time (G1 46 and 98), and is clearly aware of sceptics who will ask how authentic his portrait is, so that he must assure them of the valued traditions from the old fathers he has consulted. These two texts appear to assume that the earliest Greek biographer has no written material before him in either Coptic or Greek. On the other hand, the oral tradition has surely shaped the portrait in important directions; and in recent times the question has been increasingly put whether in the tensions between Pachomios and Theodore depicted in the Vita Prima and in the Coptic Lives there may have lain some fundamental conflicts of principle about the nature of the Pachomian ideal and its attachment to the Church. In particular does Theodore represent, in contrast with Pachomios, a tightening of the disciplinary rules (necessitated perhaps by the increasing size of the community), a stronger insistence on obedience within the koinonia in antithesis to an older anchoritic freedom? And is there any possible link with a greater theological freedom in the earlier stage of development?

Pachomios' orthodoxy

The so-called gnostic library of Nag Hammadi was found in the mountain within sight of the Pachomian monastery nearby. John Barns thought that letters and receipts used as filling for the bindings of some of the codices are likely-to have come from the Pachomian houses." His suggestion has not yet been either vindicated or disproved, but in principle it has obviously inherent probability. Athanasius' Festal Letter announcing the date of Easter for 367 lists the books of the Bible canon, and forcibly forbids the reading of secret books. Perhaps the cache was made in consequence of this or some similar later 'crackdown' by authority. That

6. John Barns, 'Greek and Coptic papyri from the covers of the Nag Hammadi Codices', in Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts in honour of Pahor Labib, ed. M. Krause [Nag Hammadi Studies vi) (Leiden 1975), 9-18. See the preface to the recent volume of the Nag Hammadi Codices in Facsimile (on the cartonnage) by J.M. Robinson (1979).



the codices were read in the nearby monastery is surely as good as certain. Several Nag-Hammadi texts are not so much gnostic (though many may be so labelled) as encratite: they are to justify celibacy, and hence the presence of a piece from Plato's Republic (588-9), and a Coptic version of the Sentences of Sextus. On the other hand, the libertine wing of gnosticism is virtually unrepresented (other than in ambiguous allusions such as logion 61 of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, where the couch of Salome on which Jesus is said to have rested is more naturally located in her dining-room than in her bedroom).

It is not inherently probable that Pachomios was interested in the niceties of orthodox doctrine as a theological system. Except for the Origenists, early monks are seldom concerned with theological refinements which they regard as having intellectual pretensions conducive to pride and as generating dissensions. Pachomios' links to the ordinary life of the Church may have gradually grown as local bishops either came to assert jurisdiction over his houses or, as at Pan opolis, saw how useful monks could be in a missionary situation and encouraged them to build a monastery as an assertion of a Christian presence in a predominantly pagan city (G1 81). But initially such links will have been few and weak. It is worth asking whether the various early strands of tradition attest any tendencies to sympathise with doctrinal themes that could have aroused alarm in an orthodox bishop'S breast. This is not a matter of naively setting out to 'discover' Pachomios to have been a heretical ascetic subsequently covered in orthodox plasterwork, but rather of asking to what extent it is reasonable to think the early Pachomian tradition largely indifferent where dogma is concerned, content to make use of a diversity of gifts so long as they all encourage renunciation of the world.

In the Vita Prima the resurrection of Christ is first affirmed as a historic redemptive fact; and nothing can be less gnostic than that. But when the theme is reinterpreted of the 'spiritual resurrection' which means that we should exercise patience and not revile others (G1 57), such language is reminiscent of the dualistic heretic Hie rakas , a Greek-speaking Copt of Leontopolis in the Delta about 300, whose influence provoked Epiphanios of Salamis in 375 to compose some pages of refutation (Panarion 67).

According to one Pachomian narrative (Letter of Ammon 12), when Pachomios desired to become a monk, he was first invited to join the schismatic Melitians and the heretical Marcionites; but a vision assured him that Christ stands with the bishop of Alexandria. The same source (26) speaks of an influential monk in one Pachomian monastery, named Patchelphios, who taught a young man to disbelieve in the resurrection of the flesh but was brought to conform to the teachings of the Church.

In the second Greek Life there is mention of demonic assaults on Pachomios' orthodoxy," but without success since he hated Arians, Melitians, and Origen.f

7. G2 17; Halkin, 183.

8. G2 27 and 88; Halkin, 268.9-10.



On one occasion (Paralipomena xiv.33) heretics in hairshirts challenged Pachomios to walk on the water of the Nile, a charism attributed to several holy men, and once in the Vita Prima credited to Pachomios himself." But Pachomios angrily rejected the suggestion as being both foreign to God and also thought ill of by secular persons; in other words as a well known trick of sorcery. (Lucian, Philopseudes 34, tells us that in the caverns of Memphis sorcerers professed to teach one how to do this trick.)

In all our texts Theodore appears as a pillar of orthodoxy explicitly attached to the authority of the episcopate. That there was tension between Pachomios and Theodore over the succession is certain (G1 106). One can only speculate (and therefore go beyond the authority of the texts), but it seems inevitable to ask whether or not the tension between the two heroes originated in Theodore's wish to link the koinonia more closely with the local churches and their clergy, whereas Pachomios represented the desire to keep the old independence and freedom of the initial colony of anchorites.

When the news came that Athanasius was coming south on his visitation of the Thebaid, Theodore was responsible for hastily rushing monks north to meet him before he reached Hermopolis (on the left bank opposite Antinoopolis). A hundred monks lined the banks of the great river, with Theodore holding the bridle of the ass on which Athanasius rode when he came to visit the Pachomian houses, honouring the primate with a torchlight procession and chanting. Theodore, we are told, won Athanasius' approval for the internal arrangements of the monasteries, the chapel, refectory, cells with the little stools on which the monks rested (it was not their way to lie down for sleep) - everything evoked the primate's praise. But Horsiesios, still in office as superior of the koinonia, did not appear, and Athanasius was persuaded to send him a letter by Theodore's hand (G1 144).

The Pachomian Rule

According to one strand of the Coptic tradition, Pachomios' first attempt to establish a community of disciples under his personal direction was a failure. He gave a rule to the brothers gathering round him, namely to share all their earnings for a common purse to supply the group's material needs and for food. Pachomios acted as treasurer. But they would not accept his authority and insulted him, indulging in mockery and laughter. After five years he abandoned his efforts and dissolved the community. The dissident monks in vain complained to the bishop of Dendera, Saprion, who, after listening to them stating their complaints, decided that Pachomios was getting it right (VC 68-9).

The Greek Vita Prima suppresses or ignores this false start in which the founder is insulted, and reports that the scheme for founding the koinonia was formed in response to an angelic message calling Pachomios to a life of service to the human race, evidently in contrast to his personal and private interest. Then follows an

9. G1 21; Halkin, 13.21.



account of Pachomios' Rule for the community laying down that dress, food, and sleeping arrangements are all to be uniformly observed by every monk without distinction. All recruits are to be admitted after a test of some kind; then they are clothed in the habit, required to make formal renunciation of the world and of any contact with their kinsfolk. They are set to learn parts of the Bible, especially the psalter and the gospels. If illiterate, they are to be taught letters.

The mature Rule translated from Greek into Latin by Jerome at the end of the century shows how many permanent monastic customs originate in the Pachomian houses: the weekly roster of duty in church, refectory and kitchen (Praecepta 13); the weekly catechism; the reckoning of seniority from the date of profession, not by age or dignity (31). Monks should act with consideration for their brothers, not entering another's cell without express leave (112), never physically touching another (95).

Neither Greek nor Coptic tradition knows of expulsions for homosexual practices (the Coptic has dark allusions that might be so construed but do not require this Interpretationj.!" On the other hand the Rule forbids joking or playing games with young boys in the monastery.I!

Pachomios' initial rule was not to admit any clergy to his koinonia, on the ground that ambition for office produces envy, strife, and faction (G1 27). The community in each monastery attended the liturgy on Saturdays and Sundays; on Saturdays at the nearest village church, on Sundays in the monastery itself, the local presbyter being invited to come and celebrate. Attendance at the synaxis is compulsory (G1 74; Praecepta 22). The communities meet for prayers in the evening and at dawn. The monks have a duty of service to one another and to the weak, the old, the sick, the young (G1 28; cf. 24). Their employment is to weave baskets and spin ropes for sale, and to cultivate vegetables on adjacent land belonging to the monastery.

Expansion of the koinonia

Pachomios' community rapidly grew in numbers, and this came to require the division of each monastery into constituent houses, each ruled by a housemaster and his assistant or second. Soon other monasteries beside the upper Nile were impressed and asked to be incorporated into the koinonia. Although a number of bishop of the pagan stronghold Panopolis (Akhmim) actually invited the Pachomian synod of Latopolis c.344 (below), he was vindicated; and as we have seen, the bishop of the pagan stronghold Panopolis (Akhmim) actually invited the Pachomian monks to come to his diocese to found a house At first local opposition dismantled by night whatever walls were erected by day, but eventually, with miraculous aid and angelic fire, the monks succeeded in constructing their enclosure wall as a fortress of Christian protest in a militantly pagan environment (G1 81).

10. VC 156 f,185, 397.

11. Praecepta 166; Boon, 66.10-15.



By the year 345 the federation of the koinonia numbered no less than nine houses. The great monastery at Pbau had 600 monks in 352 (Letter of Ammon 2), twenty of them being Greek-speaking (ibid. 7). The figures given by the fifth century writers seem to be rounded up to an impressive size without any reliable precision, and one can conclude only that the total numbers continued to grow in the second half of the fourth century. Jerome's figure of 50,000 seems a wild exag&eration, Sozomen's 500 a grave underestimate. John Cassian speaks of 5,000. Palladios offers both 3,000 and 7,000.12

Pachomios' successors

A crisis of leadership occurred on Pachornios' death. The support for Theodore had been set aside by Pachomios himself, who designated Petronios to succeed him (G1 114). But plague was removing many of the brothers by death, and Petronios was soon among them. Before death he nominated Horsiesios as superior, despite Horsiesios' protests that it was beyond his powers. This proved to be the case. The monasteries were so growing in numbers that they could put more land under cultivation with their large labour force. Already in Pachornios' time it was the rule for the superior to summon the heads of all his monasteries twice a year, at the August meeting going carefully through the accounts (G1 83). They acquired numerous boats for transporting their produce (G1 146), in contrast to the early days when the entire koinonia possessed only two boats (G1 113). Apollonios the abbot of Monchosis (Temouschous) was among those who had associated his house with the Pachomian koinonia. Apollonios wanted the agricultural industry of the monks to increase still further, probably by the taking on of additional labour from lay persons, perhaps even women, outside the monastery. At the parent house ofPbau, Horsiesios agreed with Apollonios' expansionist economic policy. But Theodore saw in it a serious threat to Pachomios' overriding religious purpose. A dramatic crisis ensued in which Horsiesios suddenly retired by night to Chenoboskeia, and Theodore succeeded him as superior. For a time Apollonios wholly withdrew his monastery from association with the koinonia but was eventually won back by Theodore's diplomacy with some compromise formula of which we are not given the text. Even Horsiesios who had moved outside Theodore's jurisdiction to join Apollonios at Monchosis was eventually charmed by Theodore to move back to Pbau, a transfer that Theodore stage-managed with an evident sense of high dramatic style (G1 145). But the disagreements certainly went deep. Both the Greek and the Coptic traditions seek to gloss over them, and only the Arabic Life frankly explains the essence of the matter.

Theodore, in a word, feared the secularisation of Pachomios' ideal. It is no doubt true that the Pachomian monasteries were solving a social and economic problem for many peasants in the Nile valley, put out of work by the inflation of the second

12. Jerome's preface, Boon, 8; Cassian, Inst.iv.1; Sozom.iii.14; Palladius, HL VI.6.xxxii. cr.

G.M. Colombas, El monacato primitivo i (Madrid 1974), 97, whose pages on Pachomios are particularly well done.



half of the third century so well attested in the papyri. Both Tabennisi and Pbau are described as deserted villa§es.13 A peasant was more secure economically inside the monastery than outside. 1 Inside his life would be simple and frugal. The food would not be rich, but sufficient for life without any temptation to excess (G1 53, 55). Wine and meat would be very infrequent unless one were to fall sick. Except for the two nunneries (134), there was virtually no contact with women, which spared the monks emotional stress, and no doubt contributed something to the common achievement of great longevity among the old men. The dilapidations of old age were cared for by the young recruits. All this is enough to explain why the monasteries attracted large numbers. But the magnetic attraction seems to have been Pachomios himself and his unconditional obedience to his own uncompromising ideals.

The call to obedience

The Greek Vita Prima once contrasts Theodore's gentleness and charm with the 'mournful and fierce austerity' of Pachomios (G1 91) who never allowed himself to forget the souls in torment and felt himself responsible for seeing that his monks did not join them. It is easy to think of Pachomios as resembling the Pantokrator at Daphni. He inspired fear in his flock - in contrast to Samuel, who combined abstemiousness with characteristic cheerfulness of character (G1 81). The founding father of the koinonia expected his monks to give him that unconditional obedience that a disciple wished to give an anchorite in the desert.

Pachomios' discipline is hostile to all excessive mortifications (G1 69) and especially to ostentatious proposals such as ordeal by fire (G1 8). The monk who proposed to him this test of faith ended, by a terrible irony, in throwing himself on the hot coals of the furnace of the bathhouse at Pan opolis. Perhaps he was trying his luck at fire-walking once too often rather than committing suicide. (G1 96 mentions suicides among the Pachomian ascetics.) Excess, however, is a relative term. Laughter and gossip in the bakery (cf. Praecepta 116) or working during an hour appointed for meditation brought unpleasant consequences.P An ex-actor Silvanos began his novitiate by strenuous mortifications. But he then relaxed his rigour until one day his conversation suddenly reverted to entertaining his brother monks with the old indecent jokes of the stage.l" Before all the brothers Pachomios demanded that he remove his habit, resume his lay clothing, and submit to expulsion. 'Forgive me, just this once more', pleaded Silvanos. 'But how much have I tolerated and rebuked already, how many beatings have you received and ignored?' (a reply which is important evidence for monastery disciplinej.l" But

13. Gl 12; Halkin, 8.1 and G154; Halkin 36.4. 14 Liber Orsiesi 47; Boon, 140.5 ff.

15. Gl 89 of Tabennisi; cf. 121 of Pachoum near Latopolis=Esna.

16. Cf. Praecepta et Inst. 10 (Boon 56.5): 'qui [. .. J plus ioco quam honestum est deditus'.

17. Ci.Praecepta 163;Boon,65.6.



then senior monks took the evidently high risk of speaking on behalf of the delinquent Silvanos, an act of intercession which, as the Liber Orsiesi shows, could easily land one in as much trouble as the delinquent himself, making one a partaker of his sins.!" Pachomios relented, Silvanos stayed. His weeping was so uncontrollable as to make him distressing company in the refectory. After eight years of the severest penitential life he died, and Pachomios assured the community that he had heard flights of angels singing him to his rest.'? A delinquent monk ran the risk of being refused a cortege singing psalms at his funeral as his body was borne up to the mountain caves three miles away.20 The Rule lays down a strict control over the psalm-singing at a funeral (Praecepta 127).

Pachomios is a seer who is granted visions, not (he says) of his own will but when the Lord so grants (G1 112). And some of his visions of things to come predict fearful decline after his de~arting, penetration of the monasteries by heresies, and lax discipline (G 1 71). 1 At the synod of Latopolis c.344 serious charges were brought against Pach omi os' claim that he could see the demons (G1 112). Happily the synod included two bishops who had at one time been Pachomian monks and who helped to defend him. Like other holy men, he can discern the hearts, and can detect innocence and guilt (G1 42-3, 122). A bishop sends a man accused of theft to Pachomios for judgement (G1 76; cf. 92). His diacritic power also enables him to diagnose illness (52). He possesses clairvoyant powers of knowing things happening at a distance (89). He has a criterion for distinguishing divine from demonic spirits, namely that in divinely given visions the recipient's personal thoughts wholly disappear together with any selfconsciousness of receiving the vision, whereas in demonic visions the recipient knows he is seeing it and can still retain the power to think and deliberate naturally (87). It is a criterion that has a strongly Montanist ring about it. The old orthodox complaint against Montanist prophecy protested that orthodox prophets always retain their natural rationality when delivering their prophecy, even if that may be suspended while they are receiving its revelation.

A fundamental requirement in the Pachomian koinonia is obedience to the superior. Provided that the superior himself is the first to keep the rules, this princlple holds the society together. The coherence of the congregation therefore depends intimately upon one man. The superior is responsible for his monks as shepherd of their souls, as their intercessor when they fall sick (G1 132-3). Pachomios has to teach Theodore obedience by the hard way. He is arbitrary, unreasonable, jealous of his personal autocracy, at the borderline of cruelty, until Theodore has learnt that Pachomios will never share his authority with anyone else (G1 50; cf. 126). At the same time the Lives record anecdotes of Pachomios'

18. Liber Orsiesi 24; Boon, 125.14-16.

19. Paralipomena 24; cf. Gl 104-5. The power to hear the angelic choir receiving a departing soul is possessed also by Theodore (Gl 93).

20. Gl 103; cf. Paralipomena 5-6.

21. cr. Gl 146 on Theodore.



humility and self-effacement. I do not think much will survive of recent suggestions that in the cenobitic tradition the begetter of paternal autocracy is Theodore, and that the authentic Pachomios had much more democratic and fraternal conceptions of his role than his successors found practicable.

Pachomios communicated with the heads of his monasteries with the help of a strange alphabetical cipher whose code remains un broken. Even though a major recent discovery by Fr Quecke has unearthed the Coptic and Greek originals of several letters hitherto known only in Jerome's Latin, it remains the case that no cryptographer has yet been able to penetrate their arcane method of communication. I venture to suggest that the cipher will never be broken because its intention is not actually to communicate in the ordinary sense of that word; it has the purpose of being obscure, and therefore of surrounding its author with an aura of mystery and authority.

The Pachomian heritage

In this paper I have tried to sketch out an outline of Pachomios' achievement.

The ideal of sanctity is a noble end; the means by which it is to be realised are beset by thorns and brambles on the pathway. Pachomios realises some important Christian aims: identification with the poor, restraint oflust for power and clerical domination. creating a koinonia of the Spirit bound together by the common prayers and meals and labour and by a personal obedience to the superior which is seen as a way of following the Lord himself. Simultaneously Pachomios does more than any other single person to create rules and wise customs necessary for the good order of a religious community, a remarkable number of which remain in use even now. Nevertheless, there is another side to the coin. The enclosure wall that symbolises the separateness of the community from the world also accentuates the secularisation of the created order.

To busy university teachers beset by committees and administration the monastic ideal of withdrawal and reflection can provoke to envy. And even university teachers can easily operate with a mental wall separating their college or their campus from the outside world, in some cases with a physical barrier as well. The enclosure wall fulfils several roles, some beneficial, others not so. When Pachomios created the enclosed religious community, something was lost at the same time as something was gained.

Hellenistic and Oriental Origins


THE holy men who minted the ideal of the saint in society came from Syria', so we are told by Peter Brown in his well-known article on 'The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity'. I Brown traces the rise of the

holy man back into the villages of the Syrian countryside which, especially during the -fourth and fifth century, were passing through a crisis of leadership and were in need of a good patron. The holy man living on the edge of the desert and the /likoumene took on the role of mediator in village life and as a stranger exercised his power in the complicated network of Syrian rural society. Although his role is applicable to urban conditions, the specific characteristics of the Syrian villages surrounded by desert provide a sufficient explanation for the rise and function of the~lioly man who, in complete social disengagement, coming as a stranger from the desert, was able to solve the problems of life and thought of simple folk. Brown's emphasis on the Syrian countryside as the primary stage of the holy man relieved him from a closer examination of the cultural background of the saints: a socio- , logical approach replaces a wider cultural one which also inquires after the cultural sources for th~ lifes!y.!e of the holy men and asks what is specifically Syrian in it.

Does Syria have a specific cultural identity which distinguishes it from other regions in the Roman Empire? Syria as well as Mesopotamia is a thoroughly ,~ilingual country; large groups of the population could speak and understand Greek besides their native tongue and many lives of saints and other works were translated from Syriac into Greek or vice versa. That is why we speak of the trefonds oriental of Byzantine hagiography. 2

But is a linguistic frontier equal to a cultural frontier in the hellenized Orient?

To consider the Syriac-speaking villages as untouched by Hellenistic civilization seems too simple, however attractive the idea of a barbarian saint might be. Furthermore it is misleading to consider Northern Mesopotamia as an area that was



P.R.L. Brown. 'The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity',JRS61 (1971), 80-101, esp. 82. Cf. id., The World of Late Antiquity from Marcus Aurelius to Muhammad (London 1971), 101: 'In villages dedicated for millennia to holding their own against nature, the holy man had deliberately chosen "anti-culture" - the neighbouring desert the nearest mountain crags. In a civilisation idenWIeaexclusively with town life the monks

had committed the absurd - they had "made a city in the desert".' '

~~~.P. Peeters, Le trefonds oriental de l'hagiographie byzantine (SubsHag 26 (1950)),




free from contacts with the West and therefore characterized by a strong and unbroken Semitic tradition which made itself manifest in Edessene Christianity as distinct from its Antiochene hellenized counterpart in Coele-Syria. There is something like Greek in Syriac disguise and a local cultural tradition in Greek dress, so that the division of languages in Syria and Mesopotamia is not identical with different cultural tradition.3 The hellenistic and the oriental do not exclude each other and, therefore, remain to be defined. Yet it seems to be true that -Syria developed a special type of saint with a lifestyle of his own, who made his appearance in towns and villages in Syria and Mesopotamia and there represented divine power." In a sense his rise and function is independent of local geography which only provides a scene, but does not dictate the role. That is explicitly stated by Theodoret in a touching remark at the end of the Life of Maisymas (14): Those who practise ascesis are not hindered by a stay in towns or villages, because they prove that it is also possible to attain the summit of virtue surrounded by crowds.f

It is, therefore, appropriate to analyse some Lives of Eastem saints more closely, not only to analyse these images as products of the society around the holy man, but also to have a closer look at the inherent ideology of the Lives. The holy man represents the needs of the society and a religious ideology in a characteristic lifestyle. His life is symbolical.jus actions, cures and deeds of power refer to a religious myth and-make plilul how religious behaviour has sociological and ideological componen ts. 6

The holy man of Edessa

A typical example of a Syriac life of a saint is the legend of the Man of God from Rome, who lived his holy life at Edessa." It dates from the second half of the fifth century and tells the story of an anonymous nobleman from Rome, the only child of rich parents, who was born through prayers and the special grace of God, a prerogative that he shares with Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist and other biblical prototypes of holy men. In humility he devoted himself to gain 'great science'

3. See Fergus Millar, 'Paul of Samosata, Zenobia and Aurelian: The Church, local culture and political allegiance in third-century Syria', JRS 61 (1971), 1-17, esp. 2ff; id., JJS 29 (1978), 3ff; H. Drijvers, Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt viii (1977), 885ff. A V oobus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, (CSCO Sub 14 and 17 [1958], i.l40 is of a different opinion: in his view, Mesopotamia 'had remained almost untouched by Hellenism and contacts with the West'. Cf. R. Schmidt, 'Die Sprachen im rornischen Reich der Kaiserzeit', BIb 40 (1980), 196ff.

4. A. Voobus, op.cit.; S.P. Brock, 'Early Syrian Asceticism', Numen 20 (1973), 1-19; P.

Canivetl 'Le monachismc syrien selon Theodoret de Cyr', ThH 42 (1977), 255; AJ. Festugiere, Les moines d'Orient (Paris 1961-5), i (= Culture ou saintete].

5. Theodoret, HPh. xiv ; cf. Canivet, op.cit., 248 and 263 on Maisymas,

6. See J .A. Delaunay , 'Rite et symbolique en ACTA THOMAE verso syr, I.2a et ss', Memorial Jean de Menasce, ed. P. Gignoux (Tehran 1974), 11-24.

7. A. Amiaud, 'La legende syriaque de. Saint AJexis l'homme de Dieu', BEHEt 79 (1889); ct.

A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn 1922), 96; and C.E. Stebbins, 'Les origines de la legende de Saint Alexis', Revue Beige de Philologie et d'Histolre 51 (1973), 497-507.



(yd't' sgy't') and despised all earthly things. His parents arranged a bride for him and a wedding-feast to which the whole city was invited. But on the first day of this feast the holy man escaped his bride and his city, found a ship and sailed to Seleucia in Syria, whence he arrived at Edessa. There he used to stay in the church, fasting in the daytime and living off alms, since he gave away his riches (as well as all he got and did not need) to the poor. The night, when all were asleep, he spent

~/ j>raying with extended arms, that is in the form of the cross - exactly the same '\' gesture as. Symeon the Stylite took up on his column. One night the paramonarius

. saw him like that and asked him where he was from. At last after long persuasion he told him the truth. When the holy man fell ill the paramonarius brought him to hospital. But he was absent when he died and was buried at the special cemetery for strangers. When the paramonarius heard what had happened he ran to the bishop Rabbula and told him how holy a man had stayed in his city and died there. Thereupon the bishop and the paramonarius went to the cemetery and ordered the grave to be opened. But the holy body had disappeared and only his rags were left. Since . that day Rabbula devoted himself to take care of strangers, poor people, widows and orphans and even stopped his building activities to give all his attention to these pious deeds.

; < holy man as alter Christus

This tale dealing with an anonymous stranger formed the starting point for the well-known legend of St Alexis via a more elaborated version that became known in Byzantium. Leaving aside all complicated questions that are connected with the further development of this legend it can be stated that the primitive form

Yrepresents s_ome typical traits of a Syrian life of a saint. Although there are some minor deviations, the lifestyle of the Man of God is an imago Christi. His youth is '~e Jesus' youth during which he 'increased in wisdom and stature and in favour

with God and man' (Luke 2:52). Like Jesus he left his glory behind at the same time as he left his bride and became a monogenes or monachos, in Syriac an YTzydy', living in humility (cf. Phil. 2).8 In Edessa he lived among the poor as a

completely anonymous stranger from abroad, representing Christ on earth. His

ghtly pr .. ayer a.m ... idst the sleeping people in the church court is a symbolic imitation f Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, when all his disciples fell asleep, and actually an

nUl{jtigpassionis Christi. The paramonarius is a kind of counterpart of Peter; this ecornes completelyclear after the saint's death when the paramonarius and bishop Rabbula went to the tomb a.s once Peter and John did according to the Gospel of

8. On the yhydy' see A. Adam, 'Grundbegriffe des Monchtums in sprachlicher Sicht', Zeit. schrift fur Kirchengeschichte 4te Folge iii.65 (1953-4), 209ff; and E. Beck, 'Zur ~rminologie des altesten syrischen Monchtums', Studia Anselmiana 38 (1956) 254-67. A. Adam criticises the views of Beck and Voobus in Gottingische geiehrte Anzeiger 213 (1960). 127-45 and in Askese und Monchtum in der Alten Kirche, ed. K. Suso Frank (Darmstadt 1975), 230-54, esp. 244ff. See also G. Nedungatt. 'The Convenanters of the

Early Syriac-Speaking Church', OCP 39 (1973), 205ff. .



John 20:3ff. It is not without reason that Rabbula's care of poor people and strangers is explicitly emphasized as a consequence of the saint's life and death.

In this legend the Syrian holy man has nothing in common with the good patronus, but is rather an alter Christus with a strong integrating Junction in the urban society he inhabits. Cities in Syria and Mesopotamia, especially during the fourth and fifth century, were crowded with poor and starving ~eople and the suffering of homeless strangers was terrible in the severity of winter. The holy man broke through all social boundaries and classes and represented help and justice in the merciless social structure of an ancient city, in which a stranger especially was a social outcast. In fact he did not have a position vis-a-vis the community, mediating between that community and the outside world, but rather worked within the population and fully belonged to it. The great emphasis laid on Rabbula's work of relief for the poor and sick is a natural consequence of the saint's actions. Rabbula indeed established permanent hospices for men and women and infirmaries for diseased and in particular for lepers.l" The pious Euphemia did the same at Amida in the sixth century .11 The life of the holy man of God at Edessa, therefore, does not only afford a description of his life and death, but also makes an appeal on the hearer and reader, and functions as a source of social change. It seems to me a necessary task of historical research to analyse the Wirkungsgeschichte of the Lives of the holy men and their influence on the society. These Lives represent not only products of the society around the holy man, but in tum exercise a certain influence on that society. They offer an ideal life that asks for imitation in exactly the same way as Christ's life is symbolically represented by the holy man in his stylized and ritualised behaviour. The empty graveof the holy man at Edessa, therefore, is not a miraculous addition to "the legend meant to link it to the story of his second life after his return in his father's house in Byzantium, the New Rome, but an essential part of the original legend that highlights the role of the holy man as an alter

, Christus. 12

Jacob of Nisibis

The second life I would draw to your attention is the vita of Jacob of Nisibis, with which Theodoret opens the Historia Religiosa.13 This vita is also preserved in a

9. See LB. Segal 'Mesopotamian Communities from Julian to the Rise of Islam', Proceedings of the British Academy 41 (1955), 116ff and id., Edessa 'the blessed City' (Oxford 1970), 147ff.

10. G.G. Blum, 'Rabbula von Edessa, Der Christ, der Bischof, der Theologe', CSCO Sub 34 (1969), 70ff.

11. John of Ephesus, 'Lives of the Eastern Saints' 12 (PO 17.1.166ff).

12. Amiaud, op.cit. (n.7 above), xlvii suggests that the empty grave was 'indispensible pour faire une histoire populaire de la vie de I'humble ascete inconnu qui fut plus tard Saint Alexis'. Cf. Stebbins, op.cit. (n.7 above), 499ff.

13. Theodoret de Cyr, Histoire des moines de Syrie, ed. P. Canivet and A. Leroy-Molinghen (SC 234 11977]), i.160. Cf. P. Peeters, 'La legende de S. Jacques de Nisibe',AnaIBo1l38 (1920),285-373; P. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum (paris 1890fO, 4.262-3 (Jacob



Syriac version like that of Julian Saba, the second life that Theodoret describes.

~cob was born in Nisibis in the latter part of the third century and as a young man he chose the ascetic life in the desert. He lived in the open air on fruits and herbs, did not use fire and maltreated his body. His soul, however, received spiritual food and the holy man acquired the image of God's glory. Hence he had foreknowledge of the future and could work miracles. Theodoret tells us some of these, such as the punishment of some bold girls at a spring and of an unjust judge. Theodoret explicitly refers to Moses and to Jesus' gentleness in telling these miracles which actually are a kind o(sl!meia. The holy man Jacob became so well-known and famous that

Ylte was calledto the bishop's see of Nisibis. Reluctantly he went there, but did not

, change his food or his clothes: only the place, but not his way of life, as Theodoret puts it! At Nisibis he took care of the poor and diseased, the widows and orphans; he punished the wicked and practised justice. He even raised a dead beggar, imitating in everything the Lord's grace. He seems to have attended the Council of Mc'aea, but his work at Nisibis culminated in his brave behaviour during a siege by

.:Sapor. The story in the Historia Religiosa gives the strong impression that Jacob organised the population during that siege not only through prayer but also through hard work in the reb uilding of walls that were broken by the force of the artificially ifammed waters of the local river, Like Moses, Jacob prayed to God, who sent darkness and fleas to disconcert the enemy. He even appeared on the walls of Nisibis dressed in purple and with the royal diadem to confuse Sapor, who had attacked Nisibis because he believed the king was not there. The enemy withdrew; and as 10!1g as Jacob lived Nisibis was not taken by the barbarians. It is not surprising that the tomb of this promachos became the real centre of the city, or that the people

Vof Nisibis took his body with them when they left their city on its being ceded by , Jovian to the Persians (363).1.4

Although this Life and its striking details are for the greater part legendary - Jacob of Nisibis died in 337·8 and the vita refers to a siege of Nisibis by Sap or in

-1_?O - it gives quite an exact picture of what was expected of the saint.IS His vita actually depicts his ideal role, which is partly the same that is played by Ephrem in Nisibis according to his legendary Syriac vita. The best explanation of these elements in the Syriac vita of Ephrem as well as in Theodoret's story of Jacob of Nisibis is that thethird siege of Nisibis by Sapor (as described by a letter of bishop Vologeses of Nisibis preserved in the Chronicon Paschale, by the Orationes of Julian and possibly other texts) gave rise to these legendary vitae in which the dominant role

of Nisibis); ibid., 6.380-4 (Julian Saba); Ephrem Syrus, Carmina Nisibena ed. E. Beck (CSCO, S 92·3 (1961), Hymns xiii-xvi; also Canivet, op.cit (n.4 above), 104.

14. See G.W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (Cambridge Mass. 1978), 118; R. Turcan, 'L'abandon de Nisibe et i'opinion publique', Melanges d'archeologie et d'histotre offerts Ii Andre Piganiol, ed. R. Chevallier (Paris 1966), 875-90.

15. See Canivet, op.cit. (n.4 above), 107-8, and P. Peeters, op.cit. (n.13 above), 289, 296·312.



of the holy men was strongly emphasised.l'' That role is pre-eminently an urban, one: the holy man organizes the resistance against the enemy with all means available and therefore functions as the social centre of the city even after his death. This function is even corroborated by his other social activities on behalf of the poor and diseased. That holds true for Jacob of Nisibis, for Ephrem Syrus, for the Man of God at Edessa and for many other saints whose lives are described by Theodoret or are to be found in the various Syriac sources, such as Aphraates at Edessa and Antioch (Historia Religiosa 8), Theodosios at Antioch, Abraham at Harran et al. 17

The role of ascesis

If we have found strong indications that the role of the holy man is independent of the place where he manifests his power, so that, next to his appearance in the Syrian villages, his protecting and integrating function in the urban centres should be stressed, the question arises what forces contributed to his rise and characteristic lifestyle. Two elements are of special importance: the social disengagement of the holy man, which expresses itself in his favoured stay in the desert and otherbarren places, aIJJ!.bis.as.~el'is (often called the mortification of his body) through a remark-

,able diet and demanding bodily exercises. Both elements are interwoven: the desert lis the place of solitude par excellence, where human existence reaches its lowest .'level, or in the view of the ascetic himself the summit of virtue and wisdom. 'Where . did all this madness come from?', exclaims E.R. Dodds, and for lack of a satisfying

answer to this desperate and intriguing question he states that contempt for the human condition and hatred of the body was a disease endemic in the entire culture of the period, of which some Christian and Gnostic manifestations are the most . extreme, but which also show themselves in pagans of purely Hellenic education.I''

. A. Voobus, therefore, attributes the ascetic practice of the Syrian holy men to the I strong influence of the Manichees and their anti-cosmic and anti-bodily dualism.J"

Voobus is partly followed by P. Canivet, when he states: 'le mal reside dans la matiere' and considers this to be an all-explaining ground for the ascetic practice of

16. See B. Outtier, 'Saint Ephrem d'apres ses biographies et ses oeuvres' Parole de l'orient iv (1973), 22; Julian, Or. i and ii, ed. F.C. Hertlein, 22-4, 33-9, 79-80; Chronicon Paschale, PC 92. 724B.14-728A.8; also Canivet, op.cit. (n.4 above), 104-8.

17. Julian Saba played an important role at Antioch (Theodoret, H.Ph. 2). For Theodosius (H.Ph. 10) see Canivet, op.cit. (n.4 above), 182-5. Abraham, bishop of Harran (H.Ph. 17) took care of widows and strangers and played a stabilising role in social tensions. See also I.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, Antioch. City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire (Oxford 1972), 234ff on the urban function of the Syrian saints and hermits.

18. E.R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety. Some ASfjeC:fr of religious experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine (Cambridge 1965), :14.

19. Voobus, History of Asceticism i.l58ff. For l! severe criticism of Voobus see the works cited in n.S above, See also A. Guillaumont.Pl'erspectives actuelles SUI res 'origines"au monachisme' in The Frontiers oj HumanKnowledge. Lectures held at the Q}tincentenary Celebrations of Uppsala University 1977, ed. T.T. Segerstedt (Uppsala 1978), 111-23.



;"l '..

I the Syrian saints and their mortification of the body.2o But is the Christian ascetic I practice an expression of contempt for the human condition and hatred of the body

as such?

I t should be emphasised that the social role of the holy men is in flagrant contradiction of such an explanation. The Manichaean electi are a religious elite which, never interferes with the troubles- of the body social, but always lives at a safe , ~dfstance from the cares and worries of daily life. We never hear about their social , activittesor care of the poor. 21 Contrary to Christianity, Manichaeism never became a social movement: its doctrinal ideology leads away from the trivial and material'

-aspects of human life. The Christian holy men are always ready to participate in the (3 daily life of common people and the social elite in order to protect and integrate ihiiflife. Tbey may cherish the ideal of virginity, but when necessary they repair a marriage and they pray for barren women. That does not agree with a general atmosphere of hatred of the body and contempt for the human condition.

It is noteworthy that often when the ascetic practice of the holy man is discussed (as by Theodoret), such discussion involves mention of his special wisdom and eventually his apatheia. The vita of Julian Saba as told by Theodoret is a good example of such a pattem.22 These elements find their unity in the imago Christi which is represented by the saint in his lifestyle.23 Actually that lifestyle is an exact replica of the essential elements in early Syrian Christology. To phrase it in a theological way: anthropology is part of christology, It might be useful therefore to sketch the main 'lines of early Syrian thinking on Christ before returning to our problem.

Early Syrian ehristology

The literary heritage, of the early Syriac-speaking Church (which is essentially part of Ap.ti()chene theological traditions) comprises some apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, of which the Syriac Acts of Thomas are the most important, the Syriac ~.odes of Solomon (dating from the second part of the third century) and the remnants

20. Theodoret de Cyr, op.cit. (n.13 above), i.45.

21. See G. Widengren, Mani und der Manichdismus (Stuttgart 1961), 97ff; O. Klima, Manis Zeit und Leben (Prague 1962), 84 ff; K. Rudolph, Die Gnosis. Wesen und Geschichte einer spatantiken Religion (Leipzig 1977), 362ff.

22. Theodoret, H.R. ii.3. Cf. ibid., Prologue 2-3; on Theodoret's use of apatheia, ibid. 148 n.6.

See also Canivet, op.cit. (n.4 above), 273; P. Harb, 'Les origines de la doctrine de 'la~a~O~Iltl1 (Apatheia) chez Philoxene de Mabbug', Parole de I 'orient 5 (1974),227-41. The article 'Apatheia' by G. Bardy in Dictionnaire de spiritualite i.727-46 remains fundamental. Since asceticism in Syria was not merely a rural movement but also had strong roots in the towns and cities, philosophical influences on its very beginnings cannot be denied a priori.

23. Canivet, op.cit. (n.4 above), 275-9. In the Syriac Acts of Thomas, the apostle is depicted as Christ's earthly 'double', and each is repeatedly identified completely with the other. Cf. H. Drijvers, 'Spatantike Parallelen zur altchristlichen Helligenverehrung unter besonderer Berucksichtigung des syrischen Stylitenkultus, Erkentnisse und Meinungen ii, ed. G. Weissner (GOttinger Orientforschungen/Reihe: Syriaca 17],77-113. The stylites in particular represent Christ and his passion in their ritualised lifestyle.



of Tatian's Diatessaron: 24 In all that literature Christ is considered God's eternal thought and will, incarnate in a human body in order that man might return to the original state in which he was created according to God's thought and will. Christ manifests the divine will by his obedience unto death, which means by dominating

, [human passions and strivings, revealing in this way God's eternal thought concerning [the salvation of mankind.2s The lifestyle of the holy man is an imitation of Christ's passion, a training of his will in dominating his passions and human strivings; solle

. shows a certain Christ-conformity .. Virginity is not the ideal of the holy man because he is filled with a deep hatred of the human body, but because Christ W;lS an ihidaya, in fact the ihidaya or monogenes. 26 The doctrine of the free will of man which can control all his passions and guide his body is therefore an essential

, . part of all forms of theology in the Syrian area, however different these may be.

, The best illustration of this are the Acts of Thomas, with which the vita of the Man of God at Edessa has some striking literary and ideological parallels, In the hard exercise of his will the holy man gains insight into God's saving thought - asceticism and the acquirement of wisdom are two sides of the same imitatio Christi. - and he displays this insight in his acts of power, which always aim at the salvation of men .

. i The desert is the place of trial and hence preeminently the place for exercising the I Will; at the same time the desert is between servitude and slavery and the promised ) land. That is why the holy manis also depicted as a Moyses redivivus, just as Christ

was an_q_iter Moyses. 27 .

From philosophia to apatheia

The combination of self-discipline by exercising the human will and the acquisition of wisdom is part of the hellenistic philosophical tradition. Hence Theodoret can describe the ascetic life as a philosophia aiming at apatheia. That does not mean that Christian asceticism in its Syrian manifestation is due to the influence of Greek philosophical tradition, as Reitzenstein and Leipoldt believed.28 There is a

24. In general see R. Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom. A Study in Early Syriac Tradi-

. tion (Cambridge 1975), 24ff. On the date of the Odes of Solomon see H. Drijvers, 'Kerygma und Logos in den Oden Salomons dargestellt am Beispiel der 23. Ode', Kergyma und Logos. Festschrift Carl Andresen, ed. A.M. Ritter (Gottingen 1979), 153-72. esp. 171; and id., 'The 19th Ode of Solomon: its Interpretation and Place in Syrian Christianity', JThS (1980), 337-55. On Tatian see M. Elze, Tatian und seine Theologie (Gottingen 1960). A fresh enquiry into Tatian's encratism and its influence on early Syrian asceticism seems to be required.

25. See Drijvers, 'Kerygma und Logos', 159ff. This theological concept is also found in Addai's sermons in the Syriac Doctrina Addai, ed. G. Phillips (London 1876), and is an essential element in the doctrinal parts of the Syriac apocryphal ;4cts of Thomas.

26. See A. Guillaumont, op.cit. (n.19 above), 114ff. As to the development of the word monachos, the term occurs in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas: cf. H.-Ch. Puech, En quete de la goose ii (=Sur l'Evangile seton Thomas) (paris 1978), 178, 216, 222 •. 236. 240.

27. See J. Danielou, Sacramentum Futuri (Paris 1950), 131-200. A good example is provided by the miracle of the well in the vita of Julian Saba (H.R. 2, 7-8).

28. R. Reitzenstein, 'Historia monachorum und Historia Lausica', Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 24 (1916); J. Leipoldt, 'Griechische Philo-



''Common pattern, of which the Syrian holy man is a characteristic variant, formed and guided by the life of Christ as understood in Syria. Perhaps this may be related to certain philosophical trends, since Christ as thought and will of God has some relation with Middle Platonism, and this life can itself be considered a kind of philosopliiEiilUfe. But its main characteristic is the holy man as imago Christi and con- : tinuation of the incarnation, so that the divine manifests itself in human shape by trallsTorming that shape into an instrument of God's thought and will. And that might be the ground for the combination of spiritual and ascetic life with ~hilosophicallearning which is quite common in the early and later Syrian Church. 9

Sociology and ideology

If the rise and function of the holy man in Syrian towns and villages are determined by that ideal of imitatio Christi which strives for the transcendence of human existence by controlling the most fragile part of it, the body. the flnal question is: what is the influence of a written and preached religious tradition on human behaviour in a given historical and social situation? In other words. what is the interaction between sociological and ideological elements in a society? it seems that Christianity's most distinct ideological type, the saint, exercised the strongest influence on the society of Late Antiquity, in the Syrian villages as well as in the towns. The special character of the Syrian holy men is rooted in earlier phases of theological thinking, but it fully unfolds during the fourth and fifth centuries. His special way of functioning in the Syrian society of that period, therefore. should 'be explained by a fresh examination of the structure of that society and its specific needs.

sophie und fruhchristliche Askese ', Berichte iiber die Verhandungen der sachsischen Akodemie der wissenschaften zu Leipzig P.H 106.4 (1961).

29. See A. Guillaumont, 'Un philosophc au desert: Euagre Ie Pontique', RHR 181 (1972),29- 56; and P. Harh, op.cit. (n.22 above), 227. It can be assumed that at Edessa, for example, there was a strong unbroken philosophical tradition from pagan times, of which the socalled 'Letter of Mara bar Serapion to his Son' is an expression (ed. W. Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacum (London 1855),43·8.




The Politicisation of the Byzantine Saint

THE role of the Eastern ascetic has been widely discussed by scholars of the late Roman/early Byzantine period - a role both fulftlling a socially and politically institutionalised function, and also providing an intimidating degree of popular influence. In any number of ways, the point has been made that during the early Byzantine centuries, the impact of the Eastern holy man or woman on the wider public cannot be over-estimated.! The key models for this basic tenet are clearly delineated. Anthony and Athanasius had left a legacy from asceticism's emergence in the fourth century, of coming forward out of the desert to re-enter the temporal world in times of religious crisis. The fifth century had seen the farreaching temporal and spiritual power of Symeon the Stylite matched by its darker counterpart, the monastic thuggery utilised with such skill by Cyril of Alexandria; while Daniel the Stylite had commanded the policies of emperors. By the sixth century the role of the Eastern holy man and woman had become firmly established with the populace and it is this period I would like to consider. Its intriguing possibilities in the development of the ascetic's role may lead to wider questions.

The first half of the sixth century witnessed an almost unbroken period of natural and human calamity in the Byzantine East. Heralded at the century's tum by an onslaught of foreboding omens, the events of the succeeding decades followed a relentless pattern. Devastating invasions were made against the eastern provinces by both Sassanian Persians and White Huns. Famine was a chronic condition from the century's start, creating a situation both ripe for the eruption of plague and also resulting from it; while numerous local epidemics merged into the massive outbreak

1. In particular see P .R.L. Brown, 'The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity', JRS 61 (1971), 80-101, and 'A Dark Age Crisis: aspects of the Iconoclastic controversy', EHR 88 (1973). 1-34; also W.H.C. Frend, 'The Monks and the Survival of the East Roman Empire in the Fifth Century', Past and Present 54 (1972), 3-24.


Daniel the Stylite. Fresco by Theophanes the Greek, Church of the Transfiguration (Spas Preobrazheniia na Il'ine], Novgorod,1379.

Photo: A.I Komech (G.l Vzdomov, Freski Feofana Greka v tserkvi Spasa Preobrazheniia v Novgorode {1976J.




of the Great (bubonic) Plague in 542. Earthquakes were severe and relatively common; floods also took their toll. In addition to these hardships, the accession of Justin I in 518 brought a dramatic shift in the government's religious policy to one of Chalcedonian faith imposed by force; harsh persecutions against monophysite dissidents were instituted, and these were to be continued under Justinian and successive rulers. To the monophysite stronghold - the eastern provinces of the empire - the blow was yet another trial to be faced.2

The Chalcedonian-monophysite struggle was fierce, and hardly the concern of religious leaders alone. There can be no doubt that this controversy was an issue of popular faith, moving far deeper than questions of theological debate or ecclesiastical manoeuvring. In Constantinople, rioting Chalcedonian crowds murdered a hapless Syrian monk mistaken for the monophysite leader Severos of Antioch.' In the monophysite East, particularly in the Syrian Orient and in Egypt, popular fears about receiving communion from the heretical hands of Chalcedonian priests forced the monophysite leaders to take a stance much against their wills and to sanction the ordination of a separate monophysite clergy. The implications of this reluctant move were not long hidden: in a matter of decades the monophysite congregation stood as a separate Church, having an independent ecclesiastical hierarchy. Unity as one Christian body had ceased to be a possibility, whatever turn theological negotiations might take."

The first half of the sixth century, then, found a situation in the eastern Byzantine provinces wherein an ascetic response was needed not only for the urgency of religious crisis, but further, for the pressing economic and social conditions created by continual tragedy. Two primary portraits, drawn by spokesmen for the opposing sides of monophysite and Chalcedonian belief, present the potency of their holy men and women in the midst of these times with disturbingly dissimilar perspectives. John of Ephesus wrote his Lives of the Eastern Saints in the mid-560s, both to glorify the virtues of monophysite ascetics whom he himself knew, and to inspire the hard-hit population of the Syrian Orient.f Almost two generations later, John Moschus wrote his Pratum Spirituale, a similar collection of Eastern ascetic vignettes, but told in more anecdotal form. Moschus wrote with the self-satisfied assurance of established Chalcedonian victory, but many of his stories date back to the period

2. Ps.-Zachariah Rhetor, HE VII-XI; Joshua Stylites, Chron.: John of Ephesus, HE (ROChr 2 [1897],462-89); Chron. Edessenum, CSCO iii4.1xxvi-ciii;Jacob of Edessa, Chron., CSCO ili.4. 314-21; Chron. ad annum 819, CSCO iliA. 7-10; Chron. ad annum 846, CSCO iliA, 218-29, Chron. ad annum 1234, l-lxii; Michael the Syrian, Chron., lX.vii-xxxii; Procopius, Wars i-ii; Evagrius Scholasticus, HE iv; John of Nikiu, Chron., lxxxix-xc, On the cumulative nature of this period of crisis, see further my article, 'Asceticism iii. Adversity: An Early Byzantine Experience', Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 6 (1980), 1-10.

3. John of Nikiu, Chron., Ixxxix.64.

4. See especially W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement (Cambridge 1972); and W.A. Wigram, The Separation of the Monophysites (New York 1978).

5. John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints, ed, and tr. E.W. Brooks (PO 17-19 [1923-5]) (hereafter Jo. Eph.).



covered by John of Ephesus and retain a coherent sense of sixth century tradition.f

Even the most cursory comparison between these works evokes a sense of tension; the vibrancy in John of Ephesus' urban asceticism and the arid stillness of Moschus' desert seem to speak of altogether disconnected matters. But for the provinces of the eastern empire, the question of religious crisis in the midst of their worldly plight must have raised just this tension in their own lives and experiences. The contrasts are major, and their implications instructive.

John of Ephesus

Anyone who has ever read John of Ephesus will recall only too well the problem of coping with his literary style. Pompous, pious, and utterly chaotic, John lumbers breathlessly through his accounts with a less than graceful ease. Still, his style is not inappropriate, and is perhaps a better mirror for his content than one might like to think. Centred on the area of north Mesopotamia, and especially on the metropolitan city of Amida,' John's ascetics - indeed the inspired elect who seek pure devotion to God - are not the desert anchorites so far removed from civilisation as to lose all contact with it. Quite the contrary: theirs is an asceticism defined by active ministry to an almost fanatical degree. They are found settled in the bleak villages, and in the hopeless mess of the city itself; while those more inclined to solitude are located in between, and never out of reach for people who desire their company or aid.

The reality of John's time is consistently apparent throughout his lives. The people his ascetics seek out and care for, in chapter after chapter, are the victims of the many calamities befalling the east: they are starving, plague-stricken, violated, frightened. The sheer immediacy of John's portrait of the area, and above all, of the presence of the holy within it, is the more haunting for the shared suffering he depicts: the campaign waged against the monophysites reached its cruellest level in Mesopotamia, and it was the highly visible and influential ascetic communities who were most likely to suffer a brutal imprisonment and exile. It was thus often under hazardous or uncertain circumstances that the Amidan ascetics performed their ministry.

The seeming chaos of John's style and narrative well reflects his context, but is belied by the uniformity of the asceticism which he describes. Amida's precarious location on the eastern frontiers of Byzantium had created an ascetic heritage of strong ties between the populace of the area and the monasteries and serni-recluses.f The events of the sixth century evoked a response indicative of a sense of shared commitment and experience. Solitaries now exorcise demons appearing in the guise

6. Joannis Moschi, Pratum Spirituale (PG 87.iii. 2851-3112) (hereafter Jo. Mos.).

7. See the article 'Amid', DHGE ii. 1237-49 (Karalewsky),

8. Jo. Eph. 58 (PO 19. 206-27); A. Voobus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient (CSCO Sub 14 and 17 [1958-60]), i. 228-9; ii. 37~. Cf. Dom A. Baker, 'Syriac and the Origins of Monasticism', Downside Review 86 (1968), 342-53.



of invading Huns or Perslans.? In exile the Amidan ascetics run soup-kitchens and health clinics in their new locales, however brief their stay.'? Those who had served the homeless and poor travellers in Amida perform identical work wherever their exile leads them, the same (John tells us) 'in peace or in persecution, in city or in exile,.ll Holy men and women nursing the sick and destitute of Arruda's streets also provide shelter for exiles fleeing through the city. 12 And recluses who had lived outside the settled areas return now to towns and cities, taking up the work left by those who have been expelled - organising religious services, performing baptisms, and otherwise tending the flocks. 13

The unity of John's ascetic vision is further enhanced by the few accounts he includes of holy men and women solely devoted to spiritual practice.l" At first appearing oddly incongruous with his emphatically urban-orientated subjects, these few virtuosos of private asceticism are in fact consistently placed in John's schema. Never appearing in isolation, they are included to verify beyond question the spiritual authority of the Amidan ascetics. They join or pass through the Amidan monastic communities during their times in exile, in affirmation of the untarnished excellence of religious devotion which-these groups maintained, even under persecution - thus revitalising the spiritual potency of these communities in the eyes of the populace. Alternatively, as in the striking case of the two sisters Mary and Euphemia, the single-minded solitary practice of the one is closely tied to the immensely energetic service of the other, thereby validating and strengthening the power of both. 15

What is most apparent in the Lives of the Eastern Saints is that the fundamental ascetic vision and the response to the religious crisis of monophysite persecution are identical. Neither offers a means of retreat or refuge from the plight of the eastern provinces. There is no aloofness, no distance, and despite John's zeal, little illusion. In the grim conditions of exile, the Amidan ascetics are easy prey for plague; moreover their religious status does not exempt them from massacre wrought by plundering foreign troops. Again, they can survive only so much Chalcedonian torture. In fact, these stories are notable for the standard hagiographical fare they do not include: the ascetic suffering the boredom of accidie or the taunting desire of lust, for there is no time for such indulgence. Most pointedly, there are no miraculous answers, no divine intervention for the hardship at hand. The ascetics may cure the sick and exorcise demons; but they cannot call forth any instant wonders to dispel reality. They can only serve.

9. Jo. Eph. 6 (PO 17. 111-18).

10. Jo. Eph.15 (PO 17. 220-8); and 35 (PO 18.614-17).

11. ]0. Eph. 3 (PO 17.42-4); 33 and 34 (PO 18. 592-{)06).

12. Jo. Eph. 12 (PO 17. 171-86).

13. Jo. Eph. 5 and 23 (PO 17.95-111 and 300-4).

14. Jo. Eph. 14, 17, 19,20 (PO 17.213-20,248-59.266-83); see also 28 (PO 18. 559-62) and 53 (PO 19. 179-85).

15. Jo. Eph. 12 (PO 17.166-86).



John Moschus

Reading John of Ephesus, one has no doubt where and when the stories are set.

Reading John Moschus, one might often wonder. Moschus, too, writes in a style that befits his content: spare and stark, his language easily conjures up the uncluttered world he unfolds.l'' Here the eastern desert - primarily in Palestine - is very remote indeed, both in place and time. The ascetics Mosehus bring to life are also remote. These can pass years, sometimes decades, without seeing or speaking with anyone;'? they can lie dead for as long again, unchanged, until another anchorite or traveller accidentally stumbles across them.18 These often suffer the demons of boredom and sex, and seem to return to towns or cities only when they have fallen from their vows and must seek the debauchery tormenting their fantasies.l? 10 this austerely black and white existence, miracles and prodigies are the norm, the Lord's favoured neople are plainly indicated, and the divine will is quite explicit.

Moschus does include stories of worthy ascetics living in urban settings. These tend to be bishops, or holy men on business, who remain as detached in city as in desert, though an occasional glimpse of social context is provided: the women who become prostitutes because they are starving,20 the citizens ruined by burdensome debts.21 The ascetics themselves are untouched by the events and circumstances of their time, which penetrate the rarified desert air only for didactic purposes. If plague strikes a village, one may seek these holy men, whose prayers can save one's children and banish the epidemic.22 If a marauding barbarian attacks, the holy men's prayers can cause the offender to be swallowed up by the earth, carried off to death by a giant bird, or even the innocent person to be instantly transported elsewhere.23 One may notice, however, that for Moschus holy women seem solely occupied with battling Satan over the issue of fornication - in contrast to the more pragmatic treatment in John of Ephesus, where holy women, albeit few and far between, are strong and wilful, impressive as leaders who gain the respect of male and female alike, and found in roles not normally open to women in their society.24

Mosehus' passion for Chalcedonian faith is also manifested by the same means as his ascetic vision. This is an orthodoxy revealed in thunderous signs, in terrifying dreams, in irrefutable miracles. The gates of hell are opened to reveal what punish-

16. cr. H. Chadwick, 'John Moschus and his Friend Sophronius the Sophist',JTS 25 (1974),

41-74; and 'Jean Moschus', Dictionnaire de spiritualite, fasc. Iii. 63240 (E. Mioni).

17. Jo. Mos. 179.

18. Jo. Mos. 84, 87,89, 120,121, 170, 179.

19. Jo. Mos. 14, 19,39,45,97,135.

20. Jo. Mos. 136, 186,207.

21. Jo. Mos. 186,193,201,207.

22. Jo. Mos. 131,132.

23. Jo. Mos. 20, 21,99.

24. E.g. Jo. Mos. 39,60, 75,76,135,179,204, 205;andJo. Eph.12 (PO 17.166-86);27 (pO 18.541-58); 28 (PO 18. 559-62); 52 (pO 19.164-79); 54 (PO 19. 185-91).



ment awaits the heretic in after-life,2s holy sacraments are consumed by lightening if defiled by rnonophysite hands.26 Divine apf,aritions prevent monophysites from worshipping in the holy places of Jerusalem; 7 evil odours are emitted by Syrian monophysite monks, however faultless their ascetic practice.28 The question o[ faith is omnipresent, but this is a faith forever tested out in the intangible space found somewhere between the temporal and divine worlds. Thus two stylites, one Chalcedonian and one monophysite, bring their religious dispute to the test by exploring the miraculous qualities of their respective holy sacraments - the monophysite morsel, not surprisingly, proving unable to survive the trial.29

What we obviously need here are accounts of how common people perceived the Chalcedonian-monophysite rivalry, and its appearance in the work of holy men and women in the world. Instead, we are left with the biases ofhagiographical proselytising. Moschus portrays in clear and even tones an asceticism of impenetrable timelessness, in which the temporal world is a place only to be shunned, while one's faith is played out between oneself and one's God. For Moschus this also is the nature and realm of religious crisis - a passionate display of divine warfare in a space far removed from the irrelevance of human time and place.

I am not suggesting that the acute situation of the sixth century provided an excuse for the monophysite ascetics of the East to turn a religious crisis into a political one. Rather, I would simply stress that there were times when the ascetics of the early Byzantine Empire held themselves accountable for the condition of the tempora1 world, not because a beleaguered population sought them out, but because they perceived themselves as inextricably bound to it. John of Ephesus writes with a life-affirming fervour so politically charged that his Lives border on monophysite propaganda of the most blatant kind. But if so, it is a propaganda permeated by realism. These saints of the eastern Byzantine provinces find only one answer to the calamities of their time and to the urgency of religious crisis: for them, the presence of the holy is found not outside the temporal world of human society, but manifestly within it.

25. Jo. Mos. 26.

26. Jo. Mos. 30.

27. Jo. Mos. 48, 49.

28. Jo. Mos. 106.

29. Jo. Mos. 29; cf. also 36.


The Political Saint of the Eleventh Century


ATHEME which clearly emerged from many of the papers given at the Birmingham Symposium on the Byzantine Saint was that, far from being the distant, solitary and unworldly figure of popu1ar imagination (and, sometimes, scholarly inclination) the Byzantine saint was an active participant in the affairs of the world. He was both 'in the world' and 'of it';' In this paper, this point of view is further developed and, in particular, the role of the Byzantine saint in the political life of the eleventh century is examined. By 'political life' is meant not only involvement in (and influence upon) imperial and governmental decisions, but also active participation in the activities of those with a somewhat lesser degree of influence within the Byzantine state.

Three saints are particularly important in this connection, not only because they themselves were interesting figures, but also because they were blessed with contemporary and lively hagiographers - a somewhat rare event after the stultifying (if elegant) hand of the Metaphrastic school had descended on the genre at the end of the tenth century. 2 The three saints and their hagiographers are, in chronological order, St Symeon the New Theologian; St Lazaros the Galesiote and St Cyril Phileotes. The Life of St Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022) was composed by Niketas Stethatos, one of his disciples at the monastery of St Mamas in Constantinople.f He is that same Stethatos who incurred imperial displeasure for the intemperate pamphlet published against the Latins in the aftermath of the mutual excommunications of 1054.4 The second saint is St Lazaros of Mount Galesion (north of Ephesus) who lived 968-1054. His Life was written, in the first instance, by a disciple, Gregory.f St Cyril Phileotes completes the trio. His life, covering the


See in particular the paper by Professor Browning, below. This view, of course, is in direct contrast to that first developed in the seminal article of P.R.L. Brown. 'The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity',JRS 61 (1971),80-101.

See Professor I. ~evl'.enko's Birmingham paper on ' "High Style" Saints' Lives', to be published in AnalBoli.

Nicetas Stethatos, Vie de Symeon Ie Nouveau Theologien (949.1022), ed. and tr. I. Hausherr and G. Horn, OC 12 (1928). For the monastery of St Mamas see R. Janln, La geographie ecclesiastique de I'Empire byzantin Liii (Paris 1949).

See Nicetas Stethatos, 'Against the Latins' in A. Michel, Humbert und Kerullarius (Paderborn 19n-30), ii. 322-42. The scandal caused by his pamphlet is described by S. Runciman, The Eastern Schism (Oxford 1955).46-50.

Vita S. Lazari auctore Gregorio monacho, ActaSS Nov. III, 508-88. A second Life, by Gregory of Cyprus (d.1289) is derived from this original.

2. 3.




period 1015-1110, was again composed by a disciple, Nicholas Kataskepenos (who died sometime after 1143).6

The lives of these saints cover the geographical areas of Constantinople and its environs, western Asia Minor and Thrace. They also provide a contrast between the activities of the urban and the rural saint.

The entry of these saints into political life was a lengthy process. But there can be no doubt that great social influence was ultimately achieved; the very existence of a hagiography is a mark of success. In the past, it has been argued that political or moral influence followed the acceptance of the holiness of the saint. Sanctity, as evidenced in the powers of healing, prophecy and intercession, came first. The man who was an 'outsider' was drawn into political life by the fact of consultanon." But there are good reasons for suggesting that successful saints never really severed their connections with the world, simply that their place within it was expressed by a different set of criteria. It is no accident that all hagiographers seek to place their subjects in the middling ranks of society. It may be a topos to be told that the saint was the child of parents who, though not excessively rich were 'well born' (eugeneis), but it must always be remembered that topoi are an important means of expressing the accepted and, more importantly, the expected.

The benefits of education

In the three cases around which this paper is centred, we learn a few highly significant details about the parentage and early life of the saints concerned. In particular, the education of the saint is often described. Symeon the New Theologian, for example, was born in Galata in Paphlagonia. He was educated at first by his parents and was then sent to his grandparents in Constantinople to be perfected in 'profane culture and rhetoric'. 8 He was taken up by an uncle who was a koitonites - a chamberlain in charge of the koubikoularioi, the bodyservants of the emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII. He himself entered the imperial service and gained the post of spatharokoubikoularios. 9 We do not know how long Symeon remained at court, but it seems clear that he entered the monastery at Stoudion at about twenty-eight years of age. to By this time, however, his place in the society of

6. La yie de S. Cyrille Ie Phileote par Nicholas Kataskeponos; ed. E. Sargologos (SubsHag 39 [1964 J).

7. P.R.L. Brown,JRS 61 (1971), esp, 91-101.

8. Vie de Symeon 2; Hausherr-Horn, 1. The phrase exellenisthenai ten glottan clearly indicates a secular education. See P. Lemerle, Le premier humanisme byzantin (Paris 1971).

9. For the koubikoularioi see N. Oikonornides, Les listes de preseance byzantines des Ixe et Xe siecle« (Paris 1972), 301. For the spatharokoubikoularios see ibid., 301-2. Both these posts were held by eunuchs, as was that of the koimnites (ibid., 305). Symeon's uncle foresaw a successful career for his nephew in the imperial service 'because of his great beauty', a comment which would support the view that Syrneon was already a eunuch. See Vie de Symeon 3; Hausherr-Horn, 4.

10. Vie de Symeon 4; Hausherr-Horn, 7; Symeon's first request to enter Stoudion was refused because of his age (about fourteen). According to the Life, he was finally permitted to enter some six years later, but we should probably take this date as approximate. Hausherr (Vie de Symeon, lxxxvii) considered that he was about twenty-eight.




middle-ranking court officials had been established and it is no surprise to learn that it was of such people that the saint's lay circle was later comprised.

St Lazaros was born at Magnesia on the Maeander. Again, we know that his parents were of the 'middling sort' and that their names were Niketas and Eirene. For them, too, the education of their child was a major concern. Lazaros was taught firstly by them and then by a priest, Leontios, on the instructions of the child's uncle, the monk Elias. After three further years' training with a notarios, Lazaros joined his uncle in the monastery ton Kalathon. 11 His education had ended at the stage before Symeon's; he had not been sent to Constantinople to be 'finished', but had probably studied the Scriptures in detail and some theology. His notarial training would have familiarised him not only with the techniques of drawing up legal documents, but also, perhaps, with basic legal terminology and financial calculation.

The last example, Cyril, had an even more basic education. But the information provided by his biographer that he was appointed to the rank of reader in his local church by the archbishop of Derkos, is clear evidence that he had risen above the ranks of the barely literate.12 The importance of a degree of education in youth cannot be overstressed. For it enabled the saints to communicate with disciples of a higher social standing, to receive their confidences and give them advice. It is hardly conceivable that members of the Byzantine aristocracy would have entrusted their spiritual guidance to illiterates. The saints may not have been highly sophisticated - indeed, simplicity of behaviour was a much admired quality - but in the initial selection of a spiritual father or confidant, the ability of the holy man to create a rapport with his followers was an important element.

Education placed men within a particular social stratum, albeit a wide one and was an aspect of worldly contact which could never be discarded. Other early influences, however, could. The moment of withdrawal from the world is another favourite tapas of hagiographers. Certainly, many seeking the religious life abandoned their families, their careers, their homes and their property. We have seen how Symeon the New Theologian left a promising career in the imperial service. He also renounced his rights to his landed inhentance.P Cyril Phileotes went even further by leaving both his work as a pilot on the Black Sea and his wife and family_l4 In many cases, the hagiographers relate the efforts of their subject's families to track them down and persuade them to return to the fold. The struggle against the ties of family affection and responsibility was part and parcel of that wrestling with the affairs of the world which these spiritual athletai must undertake before their internal, religious development could properly begin.

11. Vita S. Lazari 2-3; ActaSS, 509-10. The monastery of Kalathai may have been near Magnesia, cf. R. J anin, La geographie ecclesiastique de l'Empire byzantin l.iv (Paris 1975), 242 n.5.

12. Vie de S. Cyrille 2.i; Sargologos, 268.

13. Vie de Symeon 9; Hausherr-Horn, 14.

14. Vie de S. Cyrille 8; Sargologos, 293.



Spiritual kinship and its role

But the nexus of family relationships was replaced by a far more politically influential network - that of spiritual kinship. The relationship between the spiritual father and his children has long been of interest to historians and theologians, though the subject has still to receive the major study it deserves. IS In particular, the process by which the choice of spiritual father was made (and the role accepted, since the affair was a two way process) has still to be elucidated.

But it is clear that it followed upon the acceptance of the saint by a large body of people, and on their resEect for a sanctity associated with the qualities of curing, prophecy and asceticism. 6 This acceptance showed itself in concrete form in increased patronage of the foundations set up by the holy men concerned - and in their rising reputations as spiritual guides.

The relationship between the holy men and their spiritual children was conducted in a number of ways. The disciple could visit the holy man in his monastery, receive advice or admonition and then, perhaps, make a donation to the house. This had advantages in times of political crisis, as a visit to a remote provincial monastery might initially escape the notice of imperial informants. But there is much evidence to suggest that the rural saints themselves were in close contact with their disciples further afield and took particular interest in the affairs of Constantinople. St Lazaros corresponded with his followers in the capital and we also know that after his death letters were speedily despatched to Constantinople.I" Doubtless these were primarily addressed to the metochion of the houses of Galesion in the city, but they may well have been the means of informing the saint's most influential disciples and spiritual sons of his death.

In other hagiographies, the process of contact with the capital and the highest echelons of the government is even more noticeable. The archives of Athos, and of the Lavra in particular, reveal numerous occasions upon which powerful hegoumenoi seemed to have unhindered access to the emperor to put their case on disputed questions concerning the administration of the Holy Mountain. IS St Christodoulos of Patmos similarly enjoyed access to both emperor and patriarch when he was in dispute with members of his flock on Mount Latros.l?

15. I. Hausherr, Direction spirituelle en Orient autrefois (DCA 144 [1955]) remains the only

study, as far as I know, and concentrates on the period of the desert fathers.

16. As pointed out by Professor Patlagean below.

17. Vita S. Lazari 221; ActaSS, 576.

18. See, for example, Actes du Protaton [= Archives de l'Athos vii) , ed. D. Papachryssanthou (Paris 1975). No.7 (972) relates how conflicts about the conduct of the spiritual life on Athos were placed before the emperor; No.8 (1045) - the Typikon of Monomachos - deplores the habit of the warring Athonites of taking their grievances to lay judges, but (tacitly) exempts the emperor from these strictures.

19. S~ F. Miklosich and 1. Muller, Acta et diplomata graeca medii aevi sacra et prof ana (Vienna 1860-90), vi. 30-1. The rather mysterious conflict between Christodoulos and his monks is reconstructed in E. Vranousses, Ta hagiologika keimena tou hosiou Christodoulou

(Athens 1966),90-6. .



The term 'contact' has been deliberately used to cover a range of associations in person, by proxy or by letter. But what, precisely, was the nature of the exchange of information which has been postulated? This problem may best be answered by what we know of the pattern of a spiritual 'counselling-session'. Symeon the New Theologian himself wrote of the relationship and explained the process by which the choice or a spiritual father was made:

Go and find the man whom God, either mysteriously through himself, or externally through his servant shall show you. He [the spiritual father J is. Christ himself. So you must regard him and speak to him; so must you honour him; so must you learn from him that which will be of benefit to you.20

The consequence of this docility and obedience would, it was hoped, be the achievement of complete self-renunciation: 'For the fact of accomplishing an act not of their own will, but of that of their spiritual father's will lead just as much to self-renunciation as to death in the world,.2 Ideally, then, the relationship between the two parties was to be, from the first, one of complete openness and trust and an unquestioning acceptance of the advice of the spiritual father. In practice, this seems to have been very much the case.

An episode from the Life of St Cyril Phileotes will illustrate the concept of spiritual fatherhood in action. An unnamed woman, who is clearly Anna Dalassena the future empress, asks the saint to provide her with a piece of spiritual advice (rhlma soterias) which would be suited to her abilities. Cyril responds with a series of short apophthegmata, quoting from Basil of Caesarea on the virtues of charity, and, amongst others, John Klimakos and the desert father, Barsanouphios. At this point the penitent declares 'I wish to reveal my thoughts to your holiness but I am afraid of not staying faithful to your words and thus offending God'. Cyril assures her that the unveiling of one's innermost thoughts to spiritual fathers is the first indication of wishing to reform one's way of life and proceeds to give her a set of moral precepts which she should attempt to follow.22

It is clear that the nub of the relationship between spiritual father and spiritual son or daughter consisted in complete frankness on the latter's part. Spiritual fathers must, then, have received a vast amount of detailed and often 'sensitive' information. What has to be established, however, is whether the secrets of the consultations were passed on.

One reason for supposing that they might be is a consideration of the relationship between the spiritual sons of a particular saint. Did they consider themselves to be spiritual brothers of each other? If this was indeed the case, as the exclusivity of

20. Syrneon Ie Nouveau Theologien, Cathecheses, ed. B. Krivocheine and tr. 1. Paramelle (Paris 1963-5), ii. 335.

21. SYmeon Ie Nouveau Theologien, Traites theologiques et ethiques, ed. and tr. J. Darrouzes (Paris 1966-7), u.is.

22. Vie de S. Cyrille 17; Sargologos, 314.



some of these circles would suggest, then an important basis for alliances beyond those of family and kin was thus established.

Social implications of spiritual kinship

Analysis of the named spiritual sons and close followers of the three eleventhcentury saints provides illuminating information on the social status of those who consulted them. In all three cases, we hear of members of the imperial family and the aristocracy taking advice from the holy men. It is this activity which reveals their important role in the formulation of state policy and their position in the volatile world of secular politics.

On the highest level, St Lazaros was consulted by Maria Skleraina, the influential mistress of the emperor Constantine Monomachos and the sister of the strategos Romanos Skleros; by the strategos himself, and by a certain Makrembolites - clearly a relative of the empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa, the consort of Constantine X Doukas (1059-67) and his successor, Romanos IV Diogenes {1067-8l).13 The contacts between St Cyril Phileotes and the imperial family were even closer. He was the spiritual father of Anna Dalassena, the mother of the future emperor Alexios Komnenos (whose elevation to the purple he prophesied); of the emperor himself; and of his brother-in-law George Palaiologos. He was also consulted by the celebrated general, Eumathios Philo kales and by Constantine Choirosphaktes, a scion of an eminent Byzantine family.24

The relationship of these spiritual fathers with the highest echelons of Byzantine society was an indication that they had reached the peak of their profession. Their fame had spread widely enough to reach the ears of the members of powerful families in the regions in which they lived and beyond. The advice given varied from encouragement to undertake a coup d'etat to advice on the likely outcome of a campai~n and in this sense played an important part in the evolution of imperial policy. S

But of far more use in plotting the possible means of access to governmental circles in Byzantium, to the professional bureaucrats who ensured the continuity of administration as emperors came and went, is the analysis of the association of holy men with what might be termed Byzantine 'middle management'. Such men were,

23. For the members of the Skleros family see Vita S. Lazari 245; ActaSS. 554 (Maria Skleraina) and ibid. 87; ActaSS, 536 (Romanos Skleros). For Makrembolites, ibid., 101; ActaSS, 539. Both families are frequently mentioned in the Chronographia of Psellos and in the History of Scylitzes. The Skleros family has been the subject of a recent study: W. Seibt, Die Skleroi. Eine prosopographisch-sigillographische Studie (Vienna 1976).

24. For Anna Dalassena see Vie de S. Cyrille 17; Sargologos, 314. For Eumathios Philokales see ibid. 35 and Anna Komnena, Alexiade, ed. B. Leib (Paris 1937-45), passim For Constantine Choirosphaktes see Vie de S. Cyrille 34; Sargologos, 370. His family is known from the tenth century: cf. G. Koilas, Leon Choerosphaktes (Athens 1939).

25. See Vita S. Lazari 230; ActaSS, 579, where encouragement from Galesion for Constantine Monomachos' coup is mentioned, and Vie de S. Cyrille 17; Sargologos, 312, where the saint prophesied that Alexios would ultimately be victorious over the Norman, Bohemund, thus probably encouraging him to undertake a risky campaign.


for example, the group of disciples of Symeon the New Theologian (and the fact that they are referred to as a group is of prime importance) which met at the house of a certain Christopher Phagoura in Constantlnople.i" This circle of loyal followers continued to place its faith in Symeon even after he had been strongly censured by the patriarchs Nicholas Chrysoberges and Sergi os for venerating an icon of his own spiritual father, Symeon of Stoudion. This action must suggest that the group was made up of men powerful enough to risk ecclesiastical censure with equanimity. We know that Christopher Phagoura himself built a small house for Symeon on the Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus and may surmise that he and his friends were reasonably well- off members of the government elite of the capita1.27

St Lazaros of Mount Galesion had, if anything, more interesting contacts with the local secular authorities. His circle included Nikephoros Proteuon, the krites of the Thrakesion theme;28 John Mitas, the dioiketes of Ephesus in charge of the property of the sekreton of the Myrelaion in the same theme, his uncle Eustathios Mitas29 and Leon Bazilitzes, a pratospatharios from Attaleiar'" But he also had contacts in Constantinople. He warned the eparch, Nikephoros Kampanares, of an imminent revolt against the emperor Michael V;31 he prophesied the downfall of Constantine Barys after his abortive revolt against Constantine Monomachos, as well as the political survival of his associate, Nikephoros, son of Euthymios.V He received visits from the strategos Romanos Skleros and Kosmas Konidares, two of the figures who are also known from contemporary chronicles and the legal compilation of the Peira.

The 'politicisation' of the saint

The holy men thus played their part in the political life of both their local areas and, in some cases, the empire itself. They had an important role as formulators of policy and as the means by which like-minded men could keep in touch with one another. This had two important consequences for the spiritual and political life of Byzantium. Firstly, the advice given by holy men to those of standing and influence

26. Vie de Symeon 109; Hausherr-Horn, 146.

27. Ibid. 78-103; Hausherr-Horn, 106ff. The house was the small oratory of St Makrina (ibid.

100; Hausherr-Horn, 138).

28. For Nikephoros Proteuon see Vita S. Lazari 120; ActaSS, 543.

29. For John and Eustachios Mitas see ibid. 103;ActaSS, 539.

30. For Leon Bazilitzes see ibid. 71;ActaSS, 531.

31. ibid. 102; ActaSS. 539. The 'Karnpares' of the text should almost certainly be emended to 'Kampanares' . This man is mentioned by Scylitzes in his Synopsis Historiarum, ed, J. Thurn (Berlin-New York 1973),420. He could also be the krites 'Kampanarios' of Peira xxiii.6. Cf. 'Practica ex actis Eustathii Romani' in 1. and P. Zepos, Jus graeco-romanum (Athens 1931), iv.

32. For the plot of Constantine Barvs see Vita S. Lazari 105; ActaSS. 540. Two earlier members of the Barys family are known from the reign of Constantine Porphyrogennetos (913-59), a Constantine Barys and his son Michael: cf. Pseudo-Symeon magister, Annales, ed. I. Bekker (B.onn 1838)! 728. Given the Byzantine habit of calling grandsons after their grandfathers, this Constantme Barys could be Michael's son. It is at present impossible to identify Nikephoros, son of Euthymios.




in public affairs often amounted to directing political action. Secondly, the links between the spiritual sons may well have provided an important basis for political alliances. Most of all, however, the direction of patronage was influenced by these links. This subject is, of course, deserving of much more detailed study, but one can indicate a very strong link between the followers of a holy man who had given sage advice and the subsequent direction of their monetary and landed gifts.

This was especially true in the imperial connection. In earlier generations, Romanos Lekapenos and Nikephoros Phokas had made grants to the houses on Mount Kvminas and in particular to that of the great spiritual leader, St Michael MaleInos.33 The success of St Athanasios of the Lavra in gaining generous donations for his house on Athos from his spiritual son, Nikephoros Phokas, is well knownr'" Donations to the houses of St Lazaros and St Cyril thus fell into a well established pattern and they are by no means the only examples which could be cited from the eleventh century. 3S The initial success of the holy men in attracting followers, a very real measure not only of their spiritual reputations but also of their cultural qualifications to participate in an educated milieu, was perpetuated by the increased prosperity which followed and of which the writing of hagiography was a testament.

But the 'politicisation' of the Byzantine saint was part and parcel of the changing role of such men in the society of the eleventh century, In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, saints became almost the tools of the high aristocracy - a process already begun in the eleventh century.36 It was associated with the popularity of a new type of monasticism, that which associated the charisma of the holy ascetic and spiritual guide with the cenobitic community, the 'monasteriasation' of the holy man to which Evelyne PatIagean referred.P" This meant that the saints were quite literally more accessible than they had been in the past.

The encroachments of the Turks and Normans accelerated this movement and brought the holy men geographically into the more immediate orbit of the administrative and military elites of the empire as they moved closer to the capital for safety. The fortunes of war, however, merely accentuated an already existing involvement of successful saints in political life : an aspect of their role in a world which birth, education and personal connections had ensured that they had never completely abandoned.

33. Vie de S. Michel Maletnos, ed. L Petit, ROChr 7 (1902),543-58; see also Theophanes Continuatus, Chronographia, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1838),418.

34. See the Introduction to Actes de Lavra i [=Archives de l'Athos vl, ed. P. Lemerle, A.

Guillou, N. Svoronos and D. Papachryssanthou (Paris 1970), where Athanasios' career is examined in detail.

35. One could add the examples of Nea Monl! on Chios which received considerable gifts from Constantine Monornachos, and of St Christodoulos' foundation on Patmos, similarly patronised by the emperors Nikephoros Botaneiates and Alexios Komnenos. I examine the links between spiritual fatherhood and patronage in detail in my thesis 'The Byzantine Church and the Land in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' (unpublished D.Phil thesis, University of Oxford 1978).

36. See the fascinating papers of Dr P. Magdalino and Dr R. Macrides below.

37. See Professor E. Patlagean's study of 'Saintete et Pouvoir' below.


The Byzantine Holy Man in the Twelfth Century


As Peter Brown has reminded us more than once;' the holy man was an indispensible feature of the Byzantine scene. Whether he was a straightforward dropout in the Egyptian manner, or whether he was into eccentric Syrian fashions like columns, trees, chains, or holy foolishness, he was as integral to East Roman society as the imperial bureaucracy and the megalopolis. Indeed society needed him precisely because in his paradoxical, anti-social way, he provided a release from the tensions of too much civilisation. The Christian West could not, or would not, keep the same distinction between sanctity and social norms. The holy manJike the icon (with which he had much in common), was an Eastern institution which- Latin Europe shared in principle, but in practice tamed almost out ofrecognition. St Francis wa_s the exception that proved the rule.2

Even in Byzantium, as is well known, the icon went through a severe crisis before it became established. What about the holy man? Did he share the same troubles? This has generally been assumed. Peter Brown is not the first or the last to have seen iconoclasm as a crisis for the living ascetic.r' There are clear indications that the monks were the social group who suffered most from the reaction against

..iCQm. "arur,--correspondingly, gained most from their restoration. It would seem, therefore, that the holy man should have been quite as securely established as the icon after 843. But did holy men and icons really belong to the same 'package' to this extent, and was the holy man really home and dry in the mid-ninth century? Here certain observations must be made.

1. P.R.L. Brown, 'The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity', IRS 71 0971}, 80-101; id., 'A Dark-Age Crisis: Aspects of the Iconoclastic Controversy', EHR (1973), 1-34; id., Eastern and Western Christendom in Late Antiquity: A Parting of the Ways', Studies in Church History 13 (1976), 1-24.

2. This is not to deny the presence, and influence, of solitary ascetics in Western Europe, particularly in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and the methodology of Peter Brown has been applied to the study of one twelfth-century English holy man: H. Mayr-Harting, 'Functions of a Twelfth-century Recluse', History 60 (1975), 337-52. It is nevertheless fair to state that the Western Church discouraged solitary and eccentric asceticism more consistently and successfuly than was ever the case in Byzantium.

3. G. Ladner. 'Origin and Significance of the Byzantine Iconoclast Controverv', MedSt 2 (1940), 121-49; H. Ahrweiler in Iconoclasm, ed. A. Bryer and J. Herrin (Birmingham 1977),24.



First, it is not impossible that there were iconoclast ascetics on the traditional model." Second, icons and holy men differed significantly in that icons represented saints who had made it, whereas holy men were saints in the making. Third, the holy man, unlike the icon, was not actually prescribed as a devotional aid by an ecumenical" council of the Church. Fourth, cenobitic monasticism could, if necessary, survive without conspicuous heroes, especially of the more exotic kind. Together, these observations point to the conclusion that Byzantine society was still free to change its mind about the holy man. I suggest that there was at least one period, beginning in the twelfth century, when the holy man ran the risk of losing his

, credentials.

A decline in hagiography

Holy men are the stuff of hagiography, and Beck has written that 'the period of the Komnenoi is hagiographically a disappointrnent'P This remark needs some qualification. The hagiography of Christodoulos of Patmos.f the life of Cyril Phileotes by Nicholas Kataskepenos,? those of Hosios Meletios by Nicholas of Methone and Theodore Prodromos.f and that of Leontios of Jerusalem by the monk Theodosios.? these are all twelfth-century works, as, presumably, was the now lost life of John the Faster, founder of the Petra monastery in Constantinople.l'' These texts may be disappointing to connoisseurs of the genre, but as historical sources and mirrors of holy men in action they are as interesting as any

4. See Ihor Sevfenko, 'Hagiography of the Iconoclast World',lconoclasm, 113-,31.

5. H.G. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (MUnich 1959), 271.

6. BHG3, 303ff; A uctarium, 305; E. Vranouse, Ta hagiologika keimena tou hosiou Christodoulou (Athens 1966).

7. BHG3, Auctarium, 468; La Vie de S. Cyrille k Phileote, moine byzantin, ed. E. Sargologos

(SubsHag 39 [1964 u 39.

8. BHGJ, 1241-8; ed. B. Vasilevskii in Pravoslavnyi Palestinskii Sbomik 6.2 (1886), 1-69.

9. Makarios Chrysokephalos,14 Logoi panegyrikoi (Cosmopolis [Vienna] 1794), 380-434.

10. The Life is twice mentioned by the fourteenth-century patriarch Kallistos in his encomium of the saint: BHG3. 892; ed. H. Gelzer, ZWTh 29 (1886),64-89; see 67.13-14, and 69. 13-15. The encomium. an important source for the Petra monastery, is not cited by R. J anin. Lageographie ecclesiastique de l'Empire byzantin l.iii (Paris 19(9),421 ;or J .Darrouzes TM 6 (1976), 161. The text indicates that John the Faster, a eunuch malgre lui from Cappadocia, came to Constantinople and occupied the monydrion of Petra during the patriarchate of Nicholas III (1084-1111); his saintliness attracted the patronage of the emperor Alexios I and an unnamed empress, and by the time of his death he was head of a flourishing community (68-78). John must therefore have been the author of the unpublished and largely illegible Testament of the monastery's ktetor preserved in A mbrosianus E 9 Sup., which mentions Anna Dalassena, Alexios I, and the patriarch Nicholas as benefactors: see Darrouzes, loc.cit., n.2. Kallistos also provides information that John the Faster's monastery was transformed into a much grander and wealthier foundation by its 'second taetor, John Ioalites, a civil aristocrat and protasekretis (81·5). It was presumably after this transformation that Manuel I (1143-80) called upon the Petra monastery to provide him with a whole range of gastronomic specialities. which he needed for wedding celebrations at the Blachernae palace: ed. T.L.F. Tafel, Eustathii Opuscula (Frankfurt-amMain 1832), 230-1.



saints' lives. The saints themselves were important figures who had personal contact with the emperors of their day, and all, apart from Leontios of Jerusalem, founded monasteries.

However, Beck's point .!ll_ w~lLmag~. Leontios was the only one of these saints who lived his whole life under Comnenian rule. The other four were all, like Alexios I Komnenos, products of the eleventh-century, and Alexios (1081-1118) outlived all of them. Compared with earlier centuries and with the fourteenth (we shall come back to the thirteenth), the twelfth century is disappointing in terms of the: saints and hagiography it produced, especially when we consider that this was an age when much literature was written and many monasteries were founded.

True, the list of twelfth-century Byzantine saints can be extended to include a Il!!!!!!?er of figures not already mentioned, but for One reason or another these do not deserve attention as holy men of central importance to Byzantine society at the time. Cyprian of Calabria lived outside the Byzantine Empire.l ' and Neophytos the Recluse confined his activities to Cyprus which, although imperial territory until 1184~was, as Cyril Mango has demonstrated, very far from being a 'cross-roads of the Byzantine world'. 12 Hilarion of Moglena (d.ll64) lived much closer to the centre of things, and he is' said to have prevented the emperor Manuel I (1143-80) from lapsing into heresy.13 However, he made his reputation not as an ascetic, but as a bishop fighting against heresy, and it is perhaps significant that he is not known \ nom any Greek text but from a Slavonic life written by the fourteenth-century Bulgarian patriarch Evfimii of Trnovo.

There are, finally, two Greek saints who may have lived in the twelfth century, although this is not "certain. One Gregory, an ascetic near Nicomedia, is said by , Nikodemos Hagioreites to have died in 1240, but this cannot be verified from the fourteenth-century life by Joseph Kalothetos, which is singularly lacking in circumstantial detail.!" Another Gregory, bishop of Assos in the Troad and founder of ~. monastery on Mitylene, is the subject of a still unpublished life, which states iliat he grew up under Manuel I. IS I have not been able to consult both manuscripts' of this curious document, but the evidence of the older of the two, Patmiacus 448 (15th century) does not inspire confidence. The text of the life is preceded by a Synaxanon attributed to Nikephoros Xanthopoulos, which says that Gregory lived

11. BHG3.2089.

12. BHG3. 1325 m-n; C. Mango-EJ.W. Hawkins, 'The Hermitage of St Neophytos and its Wall Paintings', DOP 20 (l96p), 122-8; C. Mango, 'Chypre carrefonr du monde byzantin', xve Congres InteT1ll1tioTIIJI d'Etudes Byzantines (Athens 1976), Rapports v.5.

13. Ed. E. Kaluzniacki, Werke des Patriarch en von Bulgarien EuthYUlius (Vienna 1901).52; cf.

E. Turdeanu, La litterature bulgare du Xlve siecle et sa diffusion les pays roumains (Paris 1947), 82-4.

14. BHG3, 709; ed. D.G. Tsames, Joseph Kalothetos, 'Letters' and 'Life' of Hosios Gregorios, • Epistemonike Epeteris tes Theologikes Scholes tou Panepistemiou Thessalonikes 19

(1974), 103ff. -

15. BHG3. and Auctarium, 701a; cf. cod. Patmiacus 448, f34r.



under Constantine Monomachos (1042-55).16 There are other discrepancies, of which I need cite but two. According to the life, Gregory left the bishopric because he was falsely accused of sodomy with his spiritual son; according to the Synaxarion, his accusers produced a woman to say that she had slept with him. The life says that Gregory's mother wept bitterly at his death, while the Synaxarion says that he had to sort out the family property after her demise. One's first inclination is to trust the life rather than the Synaxarion, which (if the work of Xanthopoulos) can not date from earlier than about 1310. But the author of the life says that he composed it, using oral tradition and written records, 160 years after the saint's death.17 This means that if Gregory really lived under Manuel, the author of the life was either Xanthopoulos' contemporary, or of a later generation .

. Alternative sources

If we want to meet the Byzantine holy man of the twelfth century, we have to look for him not in hagiography, but in other literature: the letters of John Tzetzes.l" the canon-law commentaries of Theodore Balsamon.!? certain rhetorical works of Eustathios of Thessalonica.P" and the history of Niketas Choniates.P

-. These authors reveal that Constantinople and other Byzantine cities were teeming with holy men of all imaginable kinds. They also, without exception, portray the I holy men iii an unfavourable light, characterising them as fraudulent, greedy, or superfluous.-_·· .

Two illustrations will suffice. Firstly, a passage from a letter of Tzetzes supposedly addressed to his runaway slave Demetrios Gobinos, who had started a new life as a sausage maker in Philippopolis.H Why, asks Tzetzes, does he not return to Constantinople?

For now, every disgusting and thrice-accursed wretch like you only has to put on a jnonastic habit._Of hang bells from his penis or wrap fetters or chains round his feet, or a rope or chain round his neck - in short to' dress himself up to look self-effacing inan ostentatious and highly theatncalway.end put

, ,on an artificial and highly calculated air of artless simplicity. Immediately the .. city of Constantine showers him with honours, and the rogue is publicly 'Jeted as a saint above the apostles, above the martyrs, and above whatever is

pleasing to God. Why describe in detail the sweetmeats and delicacies and tit-

16. Fols. 8-13; BHG3 Auctarium, 710c; on Xanthopoulos, see Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 705ff.

17. FoL58r.

18. Nos. 14,55,57, 104; ed. P.A. Leone, Ioannis Tzetzae Epistulae (Leipzig 1972) (hereafter Tzetzes, ed. Leone), 25-7, 75-7. 79-84.150-2.

19. Commentaries on Canons 42 and 60 of the Council in Trullo: Migne, PG 137,665,716.

20. Principally the discourse 'On hyprocrisy', ed. T.L.F. Tafel, Eustathii Opuscula, 88-98, especially 94ff; but his 'Address to a sty lite' (ibid., 182-96) is also in the spirit of a reproof.

21. J.L. Van Dieten, ed., Nicetae Choniatae Historia (Berlin-New York 1975), 383,448-9,558 (Bonn ed., 498-9, 59{}-1, 737-8).

22. No . .1_04: Tzetzes, ed. Leone, 15{}-2.



bits, the bags of money and the privileges with which the city regales this ' monster? Leading ladies, and not a few men, of the highest birth consider it a great thing to fit out their private chapels, not with icons of saintly men by the hand of some first-rate artist, but with the leg-irons and fetters and chains

of these accursed villains, which they obtain from them after much supplication, and then replace with others.

Secondly, a passage in Eustathios' discourse 'On hypocrisy', citing the example of a hypocritical holy man who had been one of the sights of Constantinople in the. reign of John II (1118-43).23 This monk was a siderophoros, or 'iron-wearer', and stank horribly. His act was to pretend that the irons bit into his flesh and made it come away like sawdust.

Taking animal lights or liver, and mincing it into a greenish-yellow pulp which looked like chewed meat, then smearing it on himself wherever the iron left room, he would receive his audience. After speaking for a short while he would give a slight shudder, as if he were racked by pain. Then inserting his hand where the offal was smeared, he scraped it up and brought his accursed accomplice to light. And groaning painfully, 'My flesh!', he discreetly flicked it off, so that some of the vile stuff fell to the ground, already reeking heavily of decay, while the rest remained under his nails. Washing this off in a filthy torrent, he caused great wonderment to those who were not yet wise to him - this man who really did deserve to be devoured in this world, as well as by the worms of the next.

Why were Tzetzes, Eustathios, and others so critical of contemporary holy men?

Isthere a connection between their criticisms and the 'disappointing' state of cont~rary hagiography? If so, what was happening to the institution of the holy man?

A spiritual decline?

There is a simple answer to these questions: the Byzantine Church was in a state of moral and spiritual decline and the quality of monastic life was low. This is the picture which we get from reading Oeconomos' study of Byzantine religious life in the twelfth century, still the most comprehensive treatment of the subject.24 .t\ccording to Oeconomos, ,~fclesiastical government was in disarray and upset by imperial interference, which was, however, curiously unable to check abuses such as episcopal absenteeism. M(masticism was corrupted by too much wealth and too much lay patronage, with a -complete breakdown of community discipline. He admits that lay piety was strong, but he sees it as riddled with heresy, astrology, magic and superstition.

'_'- Undoubtedly this picture, though dated, contains much of value, and it is . relevant to our problem. There is obviously a connection (and Tzetzes indeed'

23. Eustathii Opuscula, 97.

24. L. Oeconomos, La vie religieuse dans l'empire byzantin au temps des Comnenes et des Anges (paris 1918). Similar opinions are expressed by Charles Diehl, La societe byzantine

a l'epoque des Comnenes(Paris 1929), 42ff, 56·7. -



makes it) between the phenomenon of disreputable holy men and the phenomenon of monastic indiscipline, of which many contemporary sources complain,2s and which, as Kazhdan has pointed out, stands in sharp contrast to the pattern of regulated community life prescribed by monastic typika of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.i''

But how helpful, or correct, is it to view the disreputable twelfth-century holy man as a symptom of religious decline? Whatever our sources may tell us about the state of the Church, they tell us more immediately about the attitudes of the authors. One man's charlatans were clearly another man's saints. We should therelore consider whether standards were in fact slipping, or whether a section of articulate opinion was becoming more selective and critical in the standards it applied. This consideration is very much to our present point, since Oeconomos' picture of decadence is based largely on the writings of those authors who criticise contemporary holy men. Since we see the holy men, and the Church, through their eyes, we must be sure that we understand their point of view.

Social and professional jealousy .

To some extent, the attitudes of the critics are explicable in terms of social and professional jealousy. All were highly educated by contemporary standards, and this affected the way in which at least two of them regarded the contemporary holy

I man. Eustathios' complaints about the ignorance of Thessalonican monks are well known,27 and in his discourse 'On hypocrisy' he accuses the hypocritical holy men 'of cultivating silence and reticence, so as to avoid criticism, whereas wise monks - men of letters and men of virtue and initiates of useful learning - project their voices, speaking forcefully, and they adorn their speech, pouring forth inspired allusions like rivers, whose sources are a delight to the cities of God'.28 Tzetzes complains that thepittance he makes popularising the classics for his noble patrons is nothing to the fortunes which vagrant monks can make selling fruit to noble households at extortionateprices.f" Clearly, neither author has any time for uneducated holiness,30 arid Tzetzes is bitter that it proves more lucrative than his own


25. Tzetzes, ed. Leone, 27, 82; Eustathios, 'Visitations of the monastic life', ed. Tafel, Eustathii Opuscula, 214-67, especially 254; P. Gautier, 'Les lettres de Gregoire higumene d'Oxia', REB 31 (1973),214-18. See also the dossier of the scandal of the Vlach women on Mount Athos under Alexios I, ed. P. Meyer, Die Haupturkunden fUr die Geschichte der Athoskloster (Leipzig 1894), 163-84. Many Athonites used the scandal as an excuse to leave their monasteries and hang about in the towns, including Constantinople (ibid., 69).

26. A.P. Kazhdan, 'Vizantiiskii monastyr' XI-XIIvv. kak sotsial'naia gruppa', VV 31 (1971), 48-70. Kazhdan notes that the contrast between corporate ideals and individualistic practice was characteristic of other Byzantine 'microstructures'.

27. Eustathii Opuscula, 244-5l.

28. ibid., 95.

29. Tzetzes, ed. Leone, 79-84.

30. .An attitude which seems to have beenat variance with one of the basic tenets of Christian hagiography. that the ascetic. however illiterate, was the true 'philosopher': cf. Theodoret \ of Cyrrhus, Historia Religiosa, ed. P. Canivet-A. Leroy-Molinghen, Histoire des moines de



erudition. The sentiments are similar to those of Ptochoprodromos, complaining that his education has not paid off~ and that the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker all earn a better living. 1

Education was commonly I! means of social advancement.V but it was most easily accessible to those who already possessed s_ome financial backing and social standing.33 Although we know little about the social origins of Eustathios,34 '-Salsamon,35 and Choniates,36 what Tzetzes tells us about his own ancestry'? 'allows us to suppose that _all came from comfortably established families. Social as well as intellectual snobbery is implicit in their criticisms of contemporary holy

• men. Denunciation of monks who did not sincerely renounce the world was probably in effect denunciation of those who had started out with little or nothing .:!Q..!en()unce. Tzetzes suggests that the profession of holy man in Constantinople is, . one that will suit an escaped slave turned sausage-maker. Eustathios condemns holy' hypocrites for much the same reason that he criticises banausic folk who enter I monasteries in order to engage in trade or agnculture.P" in either case, they have

Jl~come monks in order- to better themselves socially and economically. Tzetzes despised the holy men about town for the further reason that so many of them were' provincials and foreigners. Commenting on the letter addressed to his slave, he - writes, 'Cretans and Turks, Alans, Rhodians, and Chiots - all the most thieving and "corrupt elements of every race and land - these are the people who are made saints

~ Constannnople'r'? The implicit snobbery and explicit xenophobia of the critics

( Syrie (Paris 1977-9), passim and esp. 297. Compare the words of Eustathios (Opscula, 249), 'How can anyone philosophise who has not even a modicum of learning, and has not'

_!!2.QPed to consider spiritual practice?' with those which Saint Athanasiusattributes to Saint Anthony: 'He whose mind is healthy has no need of learning' (PG 26.945). Eustathios recommends that monks should be versed in secular as well as religious literature.

31. D.C. Hesseling and H. Pernot, Poemes prodromiques en grec vulgaire (Amsterdam 1910), No.4.

32. Michael Choniates says that he was regarded as eccentric because he e.nioYed hlarning for its own sake: S. Lampros, Michael Akominatou tou Choniatou ta sozomeua i (Afhens 1879),9ff.

33. See the remarks of I. Sev~enko 'Society and Intellectual Life in the Fourteenth Century', XIVe Congres International d'P:tudes Byzantines (Bucharest 1971),7-14; P. Lemerle, Le premier humanisme byzantin (Paris 1971), 255ff; R. Browning, 'Literacy hi the Byzantine World', Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 4 (1978), 40.

34. See P. Wirth, 'Zu Nikolaos Katapbloros', ClMed 21 (1960),212-14; V. Laurent,'Kataphloros, patronyme suppose du metropolite de Thessalonique Eustathe', RER 20 (1962). 218-21; H. Hunger, Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner (Munich 1978), 428-7.

35. Cf. In Can. Cone. Chalc., 28 (PG 137.488); K. Horna, WSt 25 (1903), 166; E. Herman in

DDC ii. 76-83. -

36. J.L. Van Dieten, Nlketas Choniates. Erlaiaerungen zu den Reden und Briefen nebst einer Biographie (Berlin 1971), 8ff.

37. Ed. P.A.M. Leone, Ioannis Tzetzae historiae (Naples 1968), 190-1; P. Gautier, 'La curieuse ascendance de Jean Tzetzes',REB 28 (1970), 207-20.

38. Eustathii Opuscula, 96, 223, 251.

39. Ed. Leone, Ioannis Tzetzae historiae, Chiliad xiii, 359ff.



appear all the more striking in the light of what a late twelfth-century hagiographer, Theodosios, has to say about the patris and genos of his subject, Leontios of Jerusalem, who had been a holy fool in the streets of Constantinople at about the I time that Tzetzes was writing. It was, of course, a matter of form to say good things

about a saint's family and birthplace, but Theodosios insists too much. He writes that the saint's birthplace, Stroumitza, 'does not have a barbarian name like a place that is mixobarbaros', He could not, he says, learn the names of Leontios' parents, but he knew for a fact that they were some of the best people in the town. It is almost as if a man could not be considered holy if he was of low or barbarian origin.4o

Finally, all our critics were more or less closely connected with the church hierarchy. Eustathios was a patriarchal rhetor then metropolitan of Thessalonica. Balsamon was chartophylax of the Great Church before becoming titular patriarch of Antioch .. Tzetzes corresponded freely with bishops and patriarchal officials. Choniates was the brother of a metropolitan, and held Balsamon and Eustathios in

'. high regard.41 As members or close associates of the episcopate, all were likely to : lshare ,episcopal' misgivings about monks who ignored their bishops and set them: ;selves up as spiritual Ieaders.f? Eustathios, a practising bishop, and Balsamon, a canon lawyer, both approached the whole question of monastic abuses as men with a professional interest in the imperial and conciliar legislation which emphasised community life and gave the bishop full authority to discipline the monks in his diocese.43

Thus our critics can be seen to have criticised the contemporary holy man from the point of view of men with vested interests - cultural, social, and professional -

40. Makarios Chrysokephalos, op.cit. (n.9 above), 381. Base and alien origins were common i material for DSOKOS: cf. A. Garzya, 'Una declarnazione giudizaria di Niceforo Basilace', Epeteris Hetaireias Byzantinon Spoudon 36 (I 968), 92-3.

41. Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, 216, 307-8,406 (Bonn ed., 282, 399-400,531).

42. i In a society where monks not only became spiritual fathers of novices, but also regularly , heard the confessions of laymen, there was a real danger that those with a reputation for , sanctity might usurp or undermine the role of the bishop. See for example the letter which Nikephoros, ex-chartophylax of the Great Church, sent to Theodosios, a recluse in Corinth,

in reply to certain confessional and penitential questions which the latter had asked: ed. P. Gautier, REB 27 (1969), 170f. Nikephoros expresses his reluctance to pronounce on these matters without the authorisation of the local bishoj1.jlnd he advises Theodosios that 'the right and proper thing for you to do is to ask the bishop of Corinth and learn from him, land do nothing for the salvation of souls without his knowledge, neither hearing confessions nor absolving penitents without his permission'. Eustathios thought that hypocritical noly men were motivated largely by the desire to acquire spiritual children (Opuscula, 96).

43. See in particular Eustathii Opuscula, 247-8, 260; Balsamon, In Can. xiv Con. in Trullo (PG 137. 674): 'It seems to me that all who violate the canons in the judgement of the local bishop are to be punished'. The principal legislation regarding the regulation and episcopal supervision of monastic communities is the following: Canons 4, 8, 24 of Chalcedon; Canons 40-7 of the Council in Trullo ; Justinian, Novels 123 and 133, incorporated in Basilica IV.



whose value was threatened by competition from outsiders who did not play by the rules. That such complaints are heard in the twelfth century, and not earlier, is perhaps understandable if we accept that this was the age when Byzantine urban expansion reached its peak, and Constantinople was attracting immigrants as never before.44----- - --

The rejection of a pattern?

Having said this, we have still not explained the criticisms. Were these directed simply at the perversion of certain ascetic models, or were they aimed at the models

as such? '

~ .. The long eulogy of asceticism with which Eustathios introduces his 'Visitation of the monastic life' is no doubt sincere and representative, but it is clear that for him, as for Balsamon and for Tzetzes, asceticism was best practised in a strictly regulated community.P Eustathios pretends that he can see the point of being a stylite, but only once does he make favourable mention of solitary asceticism,46 and among his hagiographicalhomilies, I know of only one celebration of an ascetic saint.47 Balsamon and Choniates drop direct hints that they had their doubts about the ~lle of the holy man as an institution. B2lsamon, in his commentary on canon 60 of the Council in Trullo condemning 'those who simulate demonic frenzy for gain', writes as follows:48

As I see many such wandering the towns and not being punished, but actually' welcomed as saints by some, I want to know the reason, and I demand reform. Out of ignorance, I put the late Staurakios Oxeobaphos, who feigned foolishness for Christ's sake, among the hypocrites, because there are so many deceivers, even though he wiis really genuine. Such practices should be prohibited by the 'force of this canon, in order that the good may not suffer through the fault of the bad. l1!ere are many means to salvation of the soul, and one may be saved by them without scandal. I say this not as a matter of personal opinion, but on the baSis of what good men have told me, who

44. D. Jacoby, 'La population de Constantinople a l'epoque byzantine: un probleme de demographie urbaine', Byzantion 31 (1961), 81, 107; P. Tivcev, 'Sur les cites byzantines aux XIe-Xne siecles', Byzantinobulgarica 1 (1962), 145-82; M.F. Hendy, 'Byzantium, 1081- 1204: 'An Economic Reappraisal', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (1970), 31-52.

45. Eustathii Opuscula, 224, 227,254.

46. 'In 'Visitation of the Monastic life', Eustathii Opuscula, 234.54-9. These remarks seem to contradict what the author says in 'On hypocrisy' (ibid., 94), 'I see few pillars of ascetic fire shining among us, but myriad examples of hypocritical darkness'. It should be noted, , however, that Eustathios aimed the 'Visitation' at the monks of his diocese, Thessalonica, and was trying to depict them as boorish provincials who did not live up to the standards of the metropolis. Whether he said this for rhetorical effect, or whether he believed it to be true, it is plain that he wrote the work for imperial consumption, and that the emperor of the day was Isaac II, who as Choniates 'tells us had great reverence for the holy men of Constantinople (ed. Van Dieten, 383). Combine Opuscula, 241. 60-1, with ibid., 230. 62-3.

47. Encomium of St Philotheos Opsikianos: Eustathii Opuscula, 145·51. ..

48. PG 137. 716.


adopted that way of life as one supposedly pleasing to God, but gave it up as dangerous and leading to perdition.s? For this reason many holy patriarchs arrested many of the chained anchorites who squatted in the church of Saint Niketas, along with others who roamed the streets and faked demonic frenzy, and locked them up in public gaols in accordance with the canon.

Choniates, in his account of Branas' rebellion (1187) which threatened to overthrow Isaac II, says that Isaac asked the stylites and other holy men of Constantinople to pray for him. While he does not venture the opinion that Isaac . was wasting his time, he implies it by pointing out that it was the practical measures advised by Conrad of Montferrat which saved the day.50 Similarly, while indicating that Isaac's fall in 1195 was correctly prophesied by a frenzied holy man, Basil, at Raidestos, he has nothing but contempt [or ffiis man and the clientele he attracted. 51

Even when the holy man is genuine, therefore, the critics are not impressed.

Their attitude seems not unlike that of Gregory of Tours and the sixth-century Gallic bishops who put a stop to the career of a promising stylite near Trier, ordering him to come down and destroying his column, because, as Gregory has them say, 'This life you are living is not normal (aequa), nor can you, ignoble one, hope to imitate Symeon of Antioch, who sat on a pillar'. 52 Compare Eustathios: 'A few great stylites are recorded among the saints of old, sky-climbers who reached heaven by using pillars for ladders. But this generation sprouts the stylite kind like trees in a forest, and these are not trees of life or trees of knowledge, but very mean little trees indeed [ ... ] ,.53 The basic assumptions seem to be the same. Saints who

, are larger than life belongto folklore, not the real world. Monks should live in com, munities, avoid extremes, and be responsible citizens. A dead holy man, whose holiness can be verified according to objective criteria, is preferable to a live one, whose eccentricities only confuse the issue.

Some twelfth-century Byzantines were thus coming close to rejecting an important part of their inherited religious tradition, and adopting a position which had long been conventional in the West. Indeed, Balsamon, although no admirer of the Latins, had to recognise that Benedictine monasticism was closer to canonical tradition than the looser patterns of monastic organisation now followed by the Greeks.54

49: It is likely that Leontios of Jerusalem was one of these: he had for a time been a holy fool , in Constantinople and Balsamon would have had plenty of opportunity to meet him when he returned to the city later in his career: see Makarios Chrysokephalos, op.cit, (n.9 above), 383-4,412-3,426-31.

50. Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, 383 (Bonn ed., 498-9); cf. Hunger, Die hochsprachliche profane.

Literatur i.440: 'Bemerkenswert scheint mir die durchaus unbyzantinische Einstellung des G eschichtsschreibers zum M onchtum'.

51. Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, 448-9 (Bonn ed., 590-1).

52. Historia Francorum, viii, 15: MGH ScriptRerMerov (1951), 382-3; cf. H. Delehaye, Les saints stylites (SubsHag 14 [1923]), cxlii-iii; Brown, 'Eastern and Western Christendom in Late Antiquity', 16.

53. Eustathii Opuscula, 97.

54. In Can. xlviii Cone. Carthag.: PG 138.176. with reference to Justinian, Novel 123 (Basilica IV.1.4); cr. Kazhdan, 'Vizantiiskii monastyr", 54.




The status of the critics

It is now necessary to establish whether the critics spoke only for themselves, or whether they in any sense represented an official point of view.

In general, Byzantine ecclesiastical opinion of this period would not seem to have favoured the idea that contemporary monks could or should emulate the great ascetic saints of the past. The compilation of the Metaphrastic corpus and the ~llX~~()~ _of_~~n,stantinople, and the opposition aroused by Symeon the New _Theologian __ in his attempt to establish a cult of his spiritual father Symeon the • Studite, indicate that the official Church was tending, from the end of the tenth ~ntury, tQ. c.s>!1peive of the communion of saints as a closed society, whose numbers

were now more or less complete.55 .

As we have noted, all our authors had close connections with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and two of them can be said to have written on its behalf. Eustathios was not only metropolitan of the Empire's second city, but also Manuel I's most accom_plished propagandist.V' Balsamon, a patriarchal official and then a titular patriarch, undertook his life's work of clarifying the corpus of canon law at the request of Manuel and the patriarch Michael of Anchialos (1170-8).57 'Such authors are hardly likely to have committed to writing opinions offensive to the establishment, especially at a time when the establishment was only too ready to take offence.

I Their writings echo the insistence. on community life to be found in twelfth-century .!!!..(ma~tjc tYE~~ 5 8 Their complaints about spurious holy men are in keeping with the repressive ideological climate which set in with Alexios I, and can be seen in the s3ineconteif as the measures which Comnenian patriarchs and synods took to ' ~ppress heresy, intellectual speculation, and pagan survivals. 59, J ohn )!al.os,_ Basil the Bogomil, Theodore Blachernites, Constantine Chrysomallos, Soterichos

~ " " ,


Delehaye, Saints stylites, cxv-cxvi; Beck, Kirche und theologische Literaturl...271, 273- Niketas Stethatos, Vie de symeon Ie Nouveau Theologien, ed. I. Hausherr ana G. Horn: (OC 12 [1928]), 98ff.

Despite his disagreement with Manuel over the emperor's proposal to upgrade the Muslim deity (Choniates, 216-8), he pronounced several official speeches for Manuel, as well as his -. funeral oration: for references, see Hunger, Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur, Ll26, 136,148.

Preface to his commentary on the Nomocanon: PG 104. 976-7.

E.G. L. Petit, 'Typikon du monastere de la Kosmosotira', Izvestiia Russakago Arkheologicheskago Instituta v Konstantinopole 13 (1908), 6, 29,31; P. Gautier, 'Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantokrator', REB 32 (1974), 63. However, as Kazhdan points out ('Vizantiiskii monastyr", 55) the only evidence for communal dormitories in this period comes from the typikon of a nunnery, which confirms Balsamon's statement that in Byzantium' only nuns kept to the canonically required eating and sleeping arrangements (n.54 above).

See, in general, ~,Browning. 'Enlightenment and Repression in Byzantium in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries', Past and Present 69 (1975), 3-23. According to Anna Komnena, Alexi<!_s I and his mother introduced a new moral austerity into the palace: Anna Comnene, Alexiade, ed. B. Leib (Paris 1937-45), L125; ii.37-8. The patriarch Luke Chrysoberges (1157-70) put an end to what was no doubt a long standing custom of pagan origin' by forbidding the masques which accompanied the celebration of the feast of the Holy Notaries: Balsamon, In Can. Ixii Cone. in Trullo (PG 137. 732).


57. 58.




i Panteugenos and others;6o the life of a Saint Paraskeue written by a layman - presumably in 'low' style - which the patriarch Nicholas Mouzalon (1147 -51) ordered to be burned.P! all had one feature in common with each other and with the unauthorised holy man. {\Jl 'Offered alternatives to the services provided by the sacer-

/ dotal hierarchy, and all therefore had to be brought in line by the bishop, the _ 'emperor.tand the law. As the patriarch Leo Stypes put it in the preface to the synodal act condemning Chrysomallos, 'How can one excuse those who just decide, without approval or consecration, to become healers of souls, teachers of a way of life, exponents and authors of proper learning, or, in some cases, dogmatists?,62

But was there still not a case for the authorised holy man and the authorised

/ saint's life? Clearly there was: Alexios I used Christodoulos as an instrument of monastic reform,63 and favoured the ascetic enterprises of other holy men, whose hagiography has a highly official flavour. The biographers of HosiosMeletios were a

leading theologian and a poet laureate at the court of Manuel I; the biographer of _ Cyril Phileotes was one of the monks hand picked by Manuel to staff his new model monastery ofKataskepe, and Cyril is made to deliver a long tirade against vagrant

• monks which would certainly have pleased Balsamon.P"

The role of Manuel I

However, we should note that in the surviving literature there is no biography of a holy man whom Manuel I encouraged to found a new monastery, 1 and also that criticism of the contemporary holy man begins in his reign. This , may be significant in view of the fact that Manuel's religious policy differed from

60. On these and other 'dissidents' of the Comnenian period, see J. Gouillard, 'Le Synodikon de l'Orthodoxie: edition et cornmentaire', TM 2 (1967), 183-237; 'Constantin Chrysomallos 50US le masque de Syrneon le Nouveau Theologien', TM 5 (1973), 313-7; id., 'Quatre proces de mystiques it Byzance (vers 960-1143)', REB 36 (1978), 5-81: in these last two works, Gouillard shows that the teachings of Chrysornallos regarding the suffi-

\; ciency of Baptism, which were posthumously condemned in 1143, did not differ greatly from those which the orthodox, and influential, Syrneon the New Theologian had ex: pounded over a century earlier.

61:! B~samon, In Can. Ixiii Cone. in Trullo: PG 137. 733: 'The most holy late patriarch Kyr I NICholas Mouzalon, finding that the Life of Saint Paraskeue, who is honoured in the I village of Kallikrateia, had been written by some villager in an amateurish way inappropriate to the angelic life-style of the saint, ordered it to be consigned to the fire'iIt would be interesting to know what made a piece of hagiography unacceptable to the church authorities, whether in the seventh or in the twelfth century. Balsamon seems to imply that the Life of Saint Paraskeue was stylistically unsuitable, and the fact that he remarks earlier in the same passage, 'thanks be to the blessed Metaphrastes who with much toil and sweat adorned the martyr acts for the sake of truth', further suggests that hagiography was authorised gccording t~ style. It i_s worth noting, however, that Syrneon was considered to have Improved not only-l11eSIffe but also the content of the Lives (of ascetics as well as martyrsj, which he rewrote: Michael Psellos, Scripta minora, ed. E. Kurtz and F. Drexl, i (Milan 1936), 100.

62. Ed. Gouillard, REB 36 (1978), 68.

63. Vranouse, Hagiologika keimena, 128-39.

64. Ed. Sargologos, 112-7.


tllM_Qf Alexios in three important respects. Firstly he exalted the authority of the • e~!or in_49ctrinal matters to Justinianic heights.6s Secondly, he looked after the material interests of the empire's bishoprics to an extent for which there was norecent precedent: besides the evidence of his ch!Y~bull later and imperial orations, there are specific mentions .of benefactions to the sees of Athens, Thessalonica, Kroja, Corfu, Selymbria, and Stagoi in Thessaly.66 Thirdly, Manuel made a point of gQin~!.the traditional monastic patronage .of his predecessors and his family. While not ungenerous to monasteries, particularly those in the neighbourhood of Constantinople, he encouraged the restoration of old monasteries as QPPQsed to the fQund~tiQI1 of new ones, and he enforced the principle if not the letter of Nikephoros II's legislatiQn .l.irniting the growth of monastic properties. He did found one new monastery, that of Kataskepe, but according to Choniates he founded it in deliberate reaction to the type of family foundation that other Komnenoi, including his father, had favoured: it was not to be a family mausoleum, it was well away from Constantinople, and it was supported by state subsidies rather than endowments.f?

Manuel's ecclesiastical policy was not just a matter of reform, It was part of a . large effort to create an imperial image and an imperial programme, which, although they grew out of ilie-·CoDmenian revival, took this one stage further.68 The Comnenian system as created by Alexios I was essentially aristocratic, and emphasi~-'liiiperial clan. rather than the person .of the emperor. ,Manuel worked I within the system, but demonstrably tried to make the person of1l1e 'emperor .!Land .out. among the ever-increasing crowd of privileged and prestigious imperial relatives. His imperial image-building was carried out partly in order to steal the thunder from his international rivals, especially the Sicilian kings and Frederick Barbarossa, but it was also for domestic consumption, and aimed at QvercQmi~ the intense competition which Manuel faced from his brother, uncle, and cousins, 9 In

65. Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, 210ff (Bonn ed., 274). The style of Manuel's 'caesaropapism' is admirably conveyed by the ekthesis and especially the edict which he published after the council of 1166: see C. Mango, 'The Conciliar Edict of 1166', DOP 17 (1963), 317-30.

66. On Manuel's policy with re~ard to ecclesiastical landowners, see in general N. Svoronos, 'Les privileges de I'eglise a I'epoque des Cornnenes: un rescrit inedit de Manuel Ier Cornnene', TM I (1965), 329-91, reprinted in his Etudes sur l'organisation interieure, la' societe et l'economie de-l'empire byzantin (London 1973). For Manuel's benefactions to bishoprics, see ibid., 328-9, 360-5 and the sources cited there; also the following: John Staurakios, ed. loakeim Iberites, Makedonika 1 (1940), 368-9; P. Magdalino, 'Byzantine Churches of Selymbria', DOP 32 (1978), 311-3. Svoronos argues that until about 1160, Manuel pursued a policy of indiscriminate generosity to the Church, after which he tended to favour the. lay esta_~lj~.hl!!eQt at the Church's expense. This analysis is useful, providing the following poifits are taken into consideration: (1) the evidence does not allow one to assume that. all Manuel's benefactions to bishoprics were made early in his reign; (2) it is misleading to treat 'the Church' as a single entity, without due regard for the division of· interest between bishoprics and many monasteries - a division which was in some ways deeper than that between monasteries and the laity.

67. Eustathios, Opuscula, 207. 85ff; Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, 206-8 (Bonn ed., 270-2); Balsamon, In Can. ii Cone. C'pol. (PG 137. 1012); Svomos, TM 1(1965),379-81.

68. I intend to deal more fully elsewhere with the question of Manuel's imperial 'style'.

69. Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, 32, 48-9, 10lff, 138-46 (Bonn ed., 42-3, 65-6, 133ff, 180-9); John Cinnamus (Bonn ed.), 26-7, 31-2, 53-4,126-30, 265ff.




view of Manuel's great need to rise above and dominate his kin, it is perhaps possible to see in the quirks of his religious policy a consistent attempt to play up those elements in the Byzantine religious tradition where only the emperor was supreme, and to play down those others where influential laymen could dominate, and which might then become foci of disaffection,"? If this was indeed the pattern, the urban holy man, like the endowed urban monastery, was an element to be played down. He might be an instrument of imperial policy, but since he derived his charisma independently of the imperially dominated hierarchy, and could enjoy great in-

. fluence as father of a spiritual 'family', he was potentially a subversive wea£_on in the hands of ambitious princes of the blood, and it might be prudent todiscourage him altogether.P

I conclude, therefore, that what Tzetzes, Eustathios, Balsamon and Choniates have to say about contemporary holy men does not reflect a qualitative change in Byzantine monasticism, nor does it merely reflect the authors' personaland professional distaste for a social-phenomenon that has got out of hand; It reflects an increasing official intolerance of the holy man's kind of holiness, which became mOSt acute in Manuel's reign. The evidence is open to other interpretations. The one I have adopted perhaps helps to make sense of the two basic contradictions which the evidence presents: the fact that the holy man was at the same time assiduously cultivated by the court artistocracy and openly criticised by establishment intellectuals, and the fact that the cenobitic ideal was so strongly encourag-ed and yet so consistently ignored.

70. The fourteenth-century Western crusading propagandist William Adam (Pseudo-Brocardus) remarked that private religious foundations in Constantinople tended to serve as meeting places for conspiratorial gatherings: Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Documents latins et franeais relatifs a l'Armenie ii (paris 1906), 475.

71. As a potentially subversive, centrifugal association, the spiritual 'family' concerned the emperor as much as it did the bishop (see n.42 above). The natural affmity between the holy man and the court aristocrat is evident not only from what Tzetzes has to say about his betes-noires, but also from the Life of Leontios of Jerusalem, who was introduced to Manuel by the mesas droungarios Andronikos Kamateros: see Makarios Chrysokephalos, op.cit. (n.9 above), 412: D. Polemis, The Doukai (London 1968), 126-7. See also the dossier of the Athonite scandal of Alexios I's reign: the devil succeeded in ensnaring not only the undesirables of the mountain. but through them 'areat and holy men who come near to God [ ... J and do not be amazed if some have fallen away [ ... J though they be rhetors and learned men, and even from the palace' (Meyer, Die Haupturkunden, 175). The importance of the holy man as a political prophet is illustrated by the case of Cyril Phileotes, who under Michael VII (1071-8) prophesied to Anna Dalassena, mother of Alexios I, that she would see 'the sons of your sons, and your children, rule cities and nations' (ed. Sargologos, 90ff). This prediction of the successful usurpation which brought .the Comnenian dynasty to power adds to the quasi-official character of the work. It also demonstrates that Manuel had every reason for not wanting the holy men of his day to enjoy Cyril's reputation and success.

The relationship between the tensions in the Comnenian court and the religious movements and ideological crises of twelfth-century Byzantium remain to be explored, although a useful start has been made by D. Gress-Wrig_ht, 'Bogomilism in Constantinople', Byzantion 47 (1977), 163-85. On centrifugal trends in this period, see the papers of H. Ahrweiler and A.P. Kazhdan delivered at the XVth International Congress of BYZantine Studies (Athens 1976).



What is certain is that the 'brilliant, fragile, delicate and empty civilisation' of the reign of Manuel Komnenos 72 was an important stage in the development of ' Byzantine religious life. Of course, Manuel was only one emperor, and his imperial programme rapidly collapsed after his death. Yet the effects of a strenuous, sustained, ' all-embracing governmental effort such as Manuel's do not end with that government or the failure of its policies: indeed it may take a generation or even two

r for them to be felt. From 1180 to 1204 and even longer, the Byzantine world was dominated by rulers, intellectuals, values, and habits formed at the court of Manuel

'X"omnenos. This is something to bear in mind when evaluating the society which was dismembered by the Fourth Crusade. As far as we are concerned that society is remarkable not only for its lack of recorded ascetic saints, but also because it has , left evidence for four exemplary Byzantine bishops: Eustathios, Michael Choniates, ~ Apokaukos and Demetrios Chomatenos - men who combined a high degree of metropolitan refinement and worldly sophistication with a conscientious devotion to duty. They emerge from their writings as humane, balanced, effective spiritual leaders of their flocks in a difficult period when secular government was more a hindrance than a help. It says a great deal for the state of the episcopate in the aftermath of Manuel's reign that the bishop could do so much to pick up the pieces of provincial administration.73

The holy man below the surface

With the wisdom of hindsight, we can see that the bishop never stood a chance against the holy man, especially in a society where the two categories frequently overlapped. For every bishop who had studied law or rhetoric to a high level was at least one who had come straight from a monastery. All Byzantines had a soft spot for .a __ holy. !!!l!tl.: Manuel I himself was responsible for appointing to the see of

I Jerusalem a one-time holy fool who had gone on to become a monk at Patmos, ' , there to practise self-flagellation and a peculiar form of asceticism which involved weeping naked in the coffins of dead monks.I" Isaac II, as we have seen, went

• straight to ,the stylites of Constantinople in time of political trouble. The holy man ' was only just below the surface, and when circumstances permitted he again, emerged as a saint. Yet it is worth noting that jhis did not happen for a long time; , ~e thirteenth century was not, on the whole, an age of Greek saints.'s Even the

72. Browning, 'Enlightenment and Repression', 23. _

73. The episcopal careers of these authors still await comprehensive, and comparative, analysis. For Eustathios, see in addition to the bibliography cited above (n.34), S. Kyriakides, ed., La espugnazione di Tessalonica (Palermo 1961). For Michael Choniates:

Judith Herrin, 'Realities of Byzantine Provincial Government: Hellas and Peloponnesos, 1180-1205', DOP 29 (1975),255-84, esp. 258-66. For Apokaukos and Chomatenos: D.M. Nicol, The Despotate of Bpiros, 1204-1261 (Oxford 1957), 217-9; id., 'Refugees, mixed population and local patriotism in Ep,iros and Western Macedonia after the Fourth Crusade', xve Congres Intemational d Etudes Byz£n!Lnes ~en~ 197(;), Rapports i.2.

On Apokaukos see also N.A. Bees (Vets) andl:. Seferli-Vei, B 021 (1975).

74. Makarios Chrysokephalos, op.cit., (n.9 above), 390-1. '

75. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 697; see also Dr Ruth Macrides' paper below.



events of 1204 did not, apparently, cause the Byzantines of the diaspora to turn to the holy man for comfort; instead, they got on with the job of restoring their empire. It was only after the disappointments of Michael VIII's reign, when it became apparent that the restored empire was not going to work, that the initiative 'passed from the bureaucratic to the ascetic elite. In the meantime, educated Byzantines had learned to live without the holy man. Not all of them wanted him back on JUs own terms.?"


76. On the holy man in the Palaiologan period, se,e D.M. Nicol, 'Hilarion of Didyrnoteichon ,and the Gift of Prophecy', Byzantine Studies/Etudes Byzantines 5. 1-2 (1978), 186-200; id., Church and Society in the last centuries of Byzantium (Cambridge 1979), ~ 1-65. Nicol rightly points out that whether late Byzantines sought the 'inner' or the 'outer' wisdom, they were alike in their elitism, but he himself cites evidence which shows that all was not well between the two elites: see Church and Society, 51-2; 'Hilarion of Didymoteichon', 197 n.12. The hostility became open as a result of the hesychast contrcversy.Demetrics Kydones criticises the extremist monks of fourteenth-century Constantinople in language reminiscent of Tzetzes and Eustathios and of contemporary Western propaganda: ed. G. Mercati. Notizie di Procoro e Demetrio Cidone, ST 56 (1931),335-6 ;cf. Pseudo-Brocardus, op.cit. (n.70 above), 470.


Saints and Sainthood in the Early Palaiologan Period *


A LONG with other aspects of pre-1204 society that Byzantium of the thirteenth century inherited was its attitude towards the holy man. 1 The 'cosmic cataclysm= of 1204 did not, it seems, create an environment in which the holy man's gifts were sought. This state of affairs is reflected in the fact that the little hagiography which exists from the thirteenth century draws on figures from the distant past as its subjectr' Two exceptions to this statement are eloquent evidence for the paucity of any real hagiography for the period. The learned monk Nikephoros Blemmydes took it upon himself to ensure that his virtues did not go unnoticed by writing his own Life.4 His disciples in the monastery which he founded evidently were not moved to do so themselves. In the late thirteenth century Constantine Akropolites wrote an encomium for St John the Almsgiver, the Younger, a monk who had lived in the empire of Nicaea, about whom

'-Constaritine had information at second hand. According to him, John was an obscure figure and he remains so after the author has finished his work.s In fact, the encomium tells us more above its author's habits of 'collecting' saints to write up,6 than it does about the practice of asceticism in the empire of Nicaea.

If these examples are representative of ascetics in the Nicaean empire then it would appear that the holy man did not occupy an important place in the society


An enlarged version of the paper ('Anti-Palaiologan Saints') read at the Birmingham Symposium.

See P. Magdalino, 'The Byzantine Holy Man in the Twelfth Century', above.

J. Darrouzes, 'Les Discours d'Euthyrne Tornikes (1200-1205)" REB 26 (1978), 82-3.

See H.G. Beck. Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich, 1959), 271-2; 685-6; 698-9; 700·1; A. Guillou, 'Les Poids des Conditions materielJes, sociales et economiques sur la production culturelle a Byzance de 1071 a 1261', xve Congres International d'etudes byzantines (A thens 1976), Rapports ii.3.

See J. Munitiz, 'Self-canonisation: the "Partial Account" of Nikephoros Blemrnydes', below.

D.I. Po Ie mis, 'The Speech of Constantine Akropolites on St John Merciful the Young', AnaiBo1l91 (1973), 31-54 ..

See Constantine's own comment with regard to his hagiographical interests in Polemis, op.cit., 52-3; see also a list of his hagiographical works in H. Delehave, 'Constantini Acropolitae Hagiographi Byzantini epistularum rnanipulus', AnalBoll 51 (1933), 263-8; D.M. Nicol, 'Constantine Akropolites, A Prosopographical Note', DOP 19 (1965), 245-6.

1. 2. 3.





which was working towards the reconquest of Constantinople.' This situation is all the more impressive when it is compared with that of the fourteenth century, a period in which hagiography flourished and the ascetic was much in evidence as prophet, adviser and leading figure in ecclesiastical controversies.f The striking difference in the status of the holy man in these periods leads one to ask who, if anyone, took the place of the ascetic in the thirteenth century, and what conditions brought him back in the fourteenth.

While the 'reconquest of Constantinople was the raison d'etre of the states which were created after 1204, and of Nicaea in particular," in the more than fifty years of life in 'exile' an alternative existence was created in Asia Minor, one whose strength lay in the men who filled the imperial office, the Laskaris family. 10 But when the goal was achieved and Constantinople retaken, it was not a Laskarid but the founder of a new dynasty, Michael Palaiologos, who won the capital. He was an usurper who upset the existin1 order, neglecting Asia Minor and leaving behind the legitimate heir to the throne. 1

It was during Michael Palaiologos' reign and his successors' that saints reappear.

But they do not 'have the face of the.holy man. Instead they are figures from the civil and ecclesiastical hierarchy, the emperors John III Batatzes, John N Laskaris, and the patriarch Arsenios, men who represented the right order,!l§. it had existed in Asia Minor before the Palaiologoi. To these names should be added those of the patriarch Joseph and the monk Meletios who defended orthodoxy in opposition to Michael Vlll's policy of union with Rome. These men were not especially remembered for any ascetic qualities they may have had. More dominant and Significant in the' recognition of their sainthood and in the creation of their 'cults' was their use as symbols of anti-Palaiologan resistance. The histories of each of these men, how they came to be considered saints, by whom and why, are commentaries on the failure ()f_th~ Palaiologoi to command the loyalty of their subjects, a failure which led to the Church's take-over in leadership and the return of the ascetic in the late thirteenth century.

7. I exclude from discussion cases such as that of Germanos (c. 1252-1336); although he lived during the period of the Latin occupation, he belongs more to the world of his biographer, the patriarch Philotheos, See P. Joannou, 'Vie de S. Germain I'Hagiorite par son conternporain Ie patriarche Philothee de Constantinople', AnalBoll 70 (1952), 35ff. esp. 3840; Beck, Kirche, 723ff.

8. Beck, Kirche, 272; D.M. Nicol, 'Hilarion of Didymoteichon and the Gift of Prophecy', Byzantine StudiesfStudes Byzantines 5 (1978), 186ff; A.E. Laiou-Thornadakis, 'Saints and Society in the Late Byzantine Empire', in Charanis Studies, Essays in Honor of Peter , Charanis, ed. A.E. Laiou-Thomadakis (New Brunswick 1980), 84ff.

9. See H. Ahrweiler, L'ideologie politique de l'empire byzantin (paris 1975), 107-11.

10. M. Angold,A Byzantine government in exile [ ... J (Oxford 1975), passim; S. VryonisJr., The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century (Berkeley-London 1971),219-20.

11. H .. Ahrweiler, 'L'Experience Niceene, DOP 29 (1975), 2340; D.l. Geanakoplos, Emperor MIchael Palaeologus and the West (Cambridge 1959), 33ff.



John the Almsgiver

Of all the thirteenth century saints, John III Batatzes (1222-54), son-in-law of the first emperor at Nicaea, Theodore Laskaris, has the longest history of veneration. Heisenberg noted that at the tum of this century his memory was celebrated in the region of Magnesia, the place of his burial, and his name still appears today in ' the calendar of the Greek Orthodox Church (4 November ).12 By piecing together . the available sources it is possible to reconstruct. the stages by which his reputation as a saint was created.

In his lifetime John was noted for his generosity; indeed, so much so that like his namesake, the seventh century patriarch of Alexandria, he was called 'the Almsgiver'. According to a late fourteenth century encomium of the emperor, John was given this epithet in his lifetime.13 A statement by Pachymeres suggests that the people of Lydia referred to him as such by the late thirteenth century.I''

Eleemosyne is one of the virtues which every philanthropos basileus was ' expected to possess. Encomia for emperors include some reference to this quality while treatises on kingship list it as a primary virtue. But the testimony of more than one source indicates that John's eleos went beyond the conventional. Stories about the emperor's generosity in providing for his subjects have a legendary ring to them. The emperor founded churches, hospitals, orphanages, old-age homes, and still left reserves in the treasury and piles of provisions heaped high in towers.l" Money for these foundations was not squeezed from the people but amassed by the emperor's careful management. Pachymeres tells us that on one occasion when the emperor was ill and could not obtain help from doctors, in imitation of God's eleos he gave sacks of gold coins to the needy. The emperor asked the patriarch to testify to the fact that the money was not from the public treasury but from the emperor's own savings. 16

But Batatzes' compassion for his subjects would not seem to have been enough . by itself to have created his reputation as a saint. It would seem rather that events . after his death kept his memory alive and were formative in the creation of his cult.

lJle fIrst mtracleassociated with him, which occurred near his burial place almost fifty years after his death, illustrates this point. The empire was then in the hands of Andronikos II, son of Michael VIII. The lands which had formed the 1 empire of Nicaea had been declining in prosperity under the Palaiologoi. Lydia, the heart of Batatzes' empire, was under attack from the Turks. In 1302, Andronikos'

12. A. Heisenberg, 'Kaiser Johannes Batatzes der Barmberzige', BZ 14 (1905), 192; S.

Eustratiades, Hagiologion tes Orthodoxes Ekklesias (Athens n.d.), 229.

13. Heisenberg, op.cit., 231, 27-9.

14. Pachyrneres, Bonn ed. (1839), ii.401.19402. 2.

15. Theodore Skoutariotes, 'Additamentum ad Georgii Acropolitae Historiam' in A. Heisenberg, Georgii Acropolitae Opera i (Leipzig 1903), 284-8; Gregoras, Bonn ed. (1828-55), i.42; 44- 5; Pachyrneres, i.68.6-69.2; Heisenberg, 'Kaiser Johannes Batatzes der Barmherzige' 231.

231. '

16. Pachyrneres, i. 70-1.



son and co-emperor made an attempt to repel the enemy at Magnesia on the Hermos but he abandoned the fight, leaving the town in the hands of others. One night as the watchmen were going their rounds they saw a lighted torch on the walls and then a man dressed as an emperor who announced that he was in charge of the

• garrison. People identified the man in this vision as John the Almsgiver whose protection God had given them.!? The Palaiologoi had failed them but their emperor John who had provided for them in the past returned to defend them.

Thus, events of the late thirteenth century created a situation in which subjects of a Palaiologos looked to John III as a protector and substitute emperor. His memory was kept alive in these circumstances. When the Turks took over the region, his relic was moved to Magnesia. According to the author of the 'Life of the emperor John the Almsgiver', John's relic was still in Magnesia at the time of his writing (1365-70) and was a source of healing. 18

While the faithful of Asia Minor in the fourteenth century and later put their hopes in the emperor John and looked upon his reli.£.as.a source of miracles, for members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in otherparts of the empire John Batatzes' name came to be used to evoke an image of the [deal emperor. Thus, the patriarch Kallistos (1350-3; 1355-63), in his 'Life of Gregory of Sinai', considered it 'fitting and proper' to compare the munificence of the Bulgarian ruler Ivan Alexander to that of 'the holy emperor John Batatzes'i '? He could find no better nor more recent imperial example.

For another fourteenth century writer, George bishop of Pelagonia, Batatzes was a model emperor to be held up as an example to rulers of his own time. In his 'Life of the emperor John the Almsgiver' which is essentially an encomlum.P'' the author contrasts each virtue John III possessed with the vices of contemporary rulers. Even John's accession to the throne as a son-in-law of a reigning emperor and not as a blood heir is an advantage. The author labours the point that heirs to the throne do not necessarily make good emperors. Indeed, they are more often than not 'corrupted by luxury, servile flattery, empty bombast, moral turpitude and disgraceful indolence'i+' It is noteworthy that even in the late fourteenth century remembrance of the emperor John's reign could be a context for expressing disapproval of contemporary rulers, descendants of Michael Palaiologos.

17. Pachyrneres, ii. 400-2; A.E. Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins (Cambridge Mass. 1972), 90-1.

18. Heisenberg, 'Kaiser Johannes Batatzes der Barmherzige', 232-3.

19. I. Pomialovskii, 'Zhitie izhe vo sviatykh ottsa nashego Grigoriia Sinaita', Zapiski isotorikoftlologicheskago fakul'teta imperatorskago S. Peterburgskago universiteta 35 (1896), 41, 16-21. I wish to thank Dr. H.-V. Beyer for calling this passage to my attention.

20. On the work and its author see J. Moravcsik, 'Der Verfasser der Mitteigriechischen Legende von Johannes dem Barmherzigen', BZ 27 (1927), 36-9; K. Amantos, 'Ho Bios Ioannou Batatze tou Eleernonos', Prosphora eis Stilpona P. Kyriakiden (Thessalonica 1953),29-34; Beck, Kirche, 723.

21. Heisenberg, 'Kaiser Johannes Batatzes der Barmherzige', 194; 196.19-21; 197.



Although Batatzes' veneration as a saint continued in the region of Magnesia until the twentieth century, his reputation gained wider recognition in the seven/ teenth, when his name was inserted into the calendar of the patriarchate of j CO!lstantinople.!1- Thus, in the emperor John's case, most of the elements one

"'WOuld expect to find in the recognition and celebration of a saint are present: , miracles, an encomium or vita, liturgical celebration of the saint's memory,23 and finally, wider acknowledgemerit of the cult with the insertion of the saint's name into the calendar of the patriarchate.

John Laskaris

The case of John N Laskaris, Batatzes' grandson, exhibits few of these elements but provides another example of the way in which sainthood could be acknowledged. John N, son of Theodore II Laskaris and the legitimate heir to the throne' in 1258, was blinded by Michael VIII as a young boy and spent at least half his life, in confinement in Asia Minor.24 Although he is rarely mentioned in the sources, his name was connected with revolts and plots against Michael Palaiologos and his son I AndronikoS.25 Various anti-Palaiologan parties presented pseudo-Johns to further their claims. Soon after John was blinded in 1261 the people of a village near Nicaea-revolted. They found a congenitally blind child and claimed he was John Laskaris their lord, on whose behalf they would fight to the death.26 Later, in the west, John was said to have escaped from prison and gone to the court of Charles of Anjou, Michael VIII's greatest enemy.f"

Even after his death (c. 1305)28 John's name was associated with the Palaiologoi,

22. M. Gedeon, Patriarchikoi Pinakes (Constantinople 1888), 587-8.

23. Evidence for the liturgical celebration of his memory comes from an unpublished sixteenth century manuscript (cod. Burney 54 f 219V) containing parts of an office for the emperor John the Almsgiver. ,In this work Batatzes is celebrated for his conversion of the barbarians (Cumans), the healing miracles from his relic and his eleemosyne. See also D.1. Polemis, The Doukai, A Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography (London 1968), 108 n.8. For a later office see L. Petit, Bibliographie des acolouthies grecques (Brussels 1926), 121.

24. Pachymeres, i, 190.16-192.19; A. Failler, 'La Tradition manuscrite de l'Histoire de Georges Pachymere (Livres I-VI)' REB 37 (1979), 154ff; idem., 'Chronologie et composition dans l'Histoire de George Pachyrnere', REB 38 (1980), 74ff; Angold, A Byzantine government in exile, 80ff.

25. On the 'Drirnys' plot see Pachyrneres, ii. 592-3; I. ~ev~enko, 'The Imprisonment of Manuel Moschopoulos in the year 1305 or 1306', Speculum 27 (1952), 149f.; A.E. Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins, 197f. On Glykys seeA.-M. Maffry Talbot, The Correspondence of Athanasius I Patriarch of Constantinople "(Washington DC 1975).leUer 103 and commentary 430-1; see also M. Angold, review of Talbot in JHS 98 (1978), 220; I. Sevl!enko, 'Notes on Stephen, the Novgorodian Pilgrim to Constantinople in the XIV Century'Siidost-Forschungen 12 (1953),173-4.

26. Pachymeres, i. 193-201; Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins, 22; Ahrweiler, DOP 29 (1975), 35.

27. For this incident see Geanakoplos, Emperor Michael Palaeologus, 217-18.

28. For the date see A.-M. Maffry Talbot, The Correspondence of Athanasius I, 204. 49-50; 262. 41-52; V. Laurent, Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople (Paris 1971), iv, N. 1636.



\' for his remains were kept in the monastery of St Demetrios in Constantinople.F? a Palaiologan foundation rebuilt by Michael VIII.3o The presence of his relic there

. may indicate a conciliatory gesture by Andronikos II, Michael's son, to appease the anti-Palaiologan elements in the city.31 John may even have been connected with this monastery in his life since it is known that he became a monk with the name Joasaph32 sometime after 1285.33 In either case, John's presence in a Palaiologan foundation would have been equivalent to a public restoration for the wronged heir ..

Furthermore, John's relic appears to have been on the 'tourist track' and to have received a great deal of attention. A fourteenth century Russian traveller to Constantinople, _stephen of Novgorod, visited the monastery of St Demetrios where . he reports that he kissed the relic (telo) of a saint who was an emperor called "Laskariiasaf.34 But the Russian pilgrim is not alone in attributing to John the status of sainthood. There is evidence that John was considered a saint among the

\Greeks as well.3s Theodore Agallianos, a patriarchal official writing in the fifteenth 'century, includes John in a list of men and women whom God graced with divine I energy by bestowing miraculous powers on their mortal remains.36 Agallianos'

reference to John is in a 'Dialogue against the Latins' and it is therefore reasonable

29. .See Stephen of Novgorod: M.N. Speranskii,lz starinnoi novgorodskoi literatury XIV veka (Leningrad 1934), 55, and Sev~enko, 'Notes on Stephen', 173; also, an anonymous sixteenth-century note published by P. Schreiner, Die Byzantinischen Kleinchroniken ii (Vienna 1977), 197 n.79.

30. For the identification of the resting place of John's relic with the PalaioJogan foundation see R. Janin, La geographie ecclesiastique de l'Empire byzantin !.iii (Paris 1969),93; for Michael's typikon see H. Gregoire, 'Imperatoris Michaelis Palaeologi de vita sua', REB 29-30 (1959-60), 461-74.

31. For the danger posed to Andronikos II by Laskarid supporters see §ev~enko, Speculum 27 (1952), 149 and notes.

32. Speranskii, Iz starinnoi novgorodskoi literatury, 55; ~ev~enko, 'Notes on Stephen', 173; Theodore Agallianos, 'Hieromnemonos tinos dialogou meta monachou tinos kata Lannon' in Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomos Charas (Jassy 1705),622: 'monachou [ ... J Ioasaph tou

• Laskareos'. The sixteenth-century note published by Schreiner (Kleinchroniken ii. 197 n.79) states that Michael Palaiologos' victim became a monk; it does not however imply that he became a monk in the monastery of St Demetrios as Failler would have it (REB 38 [1980], 77).

33. In 1285, after the second council of Blachernae, Andronikos II visited John in a prison in Asia Minor: Pachyrneres, ii. 103-4; Gregoras, i. 173-4; Failler, 'La Tradition rnanuscrite', 156. This is the last reference to him in Asia Minor. See Sevcenko, 'Notes on Stephen', 174, for the conjecture that John died in Constanstinople.

34. Speranskii, Iz starinnoi novogorodskoi literatury, 55. See Sevrenko, 'Notes on Stephen', 173, for the identification of 'Laskariiasaf' with John IV Laskaris and see n.32 above for confirmation of this identification from other sources.

35. See the suggestion by Sev~enko, 'Notes on Stephen', 175, that Stephen's use of the word 'saint' should perhaps be attributed to the Russian's own ideas about the status of victims of a dynastic struggle. It is now possible to take a less cautious view.

36. See Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomas Charas (Jassy 1705), 622, 625. On the identification of the author of the dialogue with Agallianos, an anti-unionist writing in the 1440's, see Beck, Kirche, 759; J. Darrouzes, Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople v (Paris 1977),99.



to assume that this patriarchal functionary was not merely stating his personal view. Additional evidence for John's sanctity comes from an early sixteenth-century \ manuscript note which states that John's relic worked healing miracles.f?

John's relic, then, like that of John Batatzes, his grandfather, must have been the object of intense devotion, since miracles are attributed to it. Refugees from Asia Minor, as well as other disaffected people in the capital, may have kept his cult alive by focussing on him their hopes and fears. Although there is no surviving hagiography for John or liturgical commemoration, the statements of the Russian traveller, Agallianos, and the author of the note, show that John was considered a saint and enjoyed considerable devotion in Constantinople.

Patriarch Arsenios

Associated with John Laskaris was the patriarch Arsenios who had defended the legitimate heir's rights, excommunicating the emperor Michael for ordering the blinding of the boy.38 Michael's subsequent deposition of Arsenios caused a schism ' in the Church which proved to be the most serious internal problem Byzantium faced in the early Palaiologan period.39 Arsenios' name was linked with plots

-llg!ljnst the regime, including the 1262 uprising in Bithynia and an attempt on the emperor's life in 1265.40 After the patriarch's death in exile on the island of .Prokonnesos in 127341 the Arsenites continued to stir up dissension which was only formally resolved in)310, ,,'

The history of the Arsenite schism has been told before in various contexts.

However, the role which Arsenios' recognition as a saint played in the schism has not been properly evaluated, in part because of a lack of published sources and also because of a misunderstanding of the available material.

Laurent and others following him have stated that Arsenios was 'canonised" shortly after his death in 1273 by Joseph (1266-75; 1282-3)~ the patriarch who I

...@§glved Michael Palaiologos of Arsenios' excommunication.42 This idea is based on the fact that an akolouthia for Ar~enios, an office in his memory (30 September), was included in a menaion which Joseph presented to Hagia Sophia while he was patriarch.43 Laurent argued that this gesture on Joseph's part was an indication of, the esteem in which he held his predecessor. But to consider it possible for such a

37. See P. Schreiner, Kleinchroniken ii. 197 n.79 and i 19l.

38. Pachyrneres, i. 201-4; Gregoras, i. 93. 17-22; Arsenios, 'Testament', PG 140. 956 AB.

39. See I. Sykoutres, 'Peri to schisma ton Arsematon', Hellenika 2 {1929}, 267-332; ibid. 3 (1930), 15-44; V. Laurent, 'Les grandes crises religieuses a Byzance. La fin du schisme Arsenite',Academie Roumaine. Bulletin de la section historique 26 {1945}, 225ff.

40. Araenios, 'Testament', PG 140. 956 ABC. !

41. Paehymeres, i. 394.19:395.2; ii 83.10.:12; I. Gill, 'Notes on the De Micflllele et Andronico Palaeologis of George Pachyrneres', BZ 68 (1975), 303.

42. Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', 259 and n.6; idem., Regestes iv, N. 146l.

43. See A. Papadopoulos-Kerarneus, Hierosolymitike Bibliotheke, v (St Petersburg 1915)

207-8 for the text of the dedicatory note. '



gesture to have been made while Michael Palaiologos was reigning is to misunderstand completely the significance of the Arsenite schism. Joseph's recognition of , Arsenios as a saint would have been equivalent to acknowledging Michael VIII's , eternal damnation as an excommunicate of that patriarch.

The akolouthia has now been published and it is clear from the language and , tone of the piece that it could not have been celebrated at any time while Michael \ was alive. The hymns hail Arsenios for exposing the 'injustice', 'the. unjust deed of the emperor' and state that it was for this reason he was deposed and exiled 'like a second holy Chrysostom,.44 Nor could the akolouthia have been celebratedduring Joseph's second patriarchate (1282-3) after Michael's death:45 the hymns allude to the presence of Arsenios' relic 'through which the Lord grants healing',46 and this was not translated to Constantinople until 1284.47

Nikolopoulos, the editor of the akolouthia, notes that the text was inserted between the months of September and October, after the patriarch Joseph's dedicatory note, a position which indicates a later addition to the menaion Joseph presented to Hagia Sophia.48 According to Nikolopoulos, the later occasion on which the akolouthia may have been inserted was 1310, the date of the formal end to the schism."? At that time the" patriarch Niphon, a man acceptable to the Arsenite faction, read a formula of absolution from the ambo of Hagia Sophia, in the presence of Arsenios' relic. 50

However, Arsenios' restoration had occurred long before the formal end of the .schism, The ceremonial adventus of his relic in Constantinople in 1284 and its deposition in .Hagia Sophia to the right of the bema was the occasion of his reinstatement. 51 Andronikos n, Michael's son, had agreed to the translation in a move to satisfy the Arsenites who complained of the injustice of Arsenios' deposition and exile.52 This was but one in a series of pacificatory acts which Andronikos and the patriarch Gregory undertook in 12834 in an attempt to end the schism. 53

44. P.G. Nikolopoulos, 'Akolouthia Anekdotns ets Arsenion Patriarchen Konstantinoupoleds', Epeteris Hetaireias Byzantinon Spoudon im: • eaiter EEBS] 43 (1977-8), 376. 13ff; 377.32 ff; 378.67ff; 380. 123ff; 381. 129ff.

45. For the dates of Joseph's patriarchates see V. Laurent, 'La chronologie des patriarches de Constantinople au xm« s. (f208-1309)', REB 27 (1969), 144-6.

46. Nikolopoulos, 'Akolouthia', 378. 56-62; 379.86-93.

47. Pachyrneres, ii. 83.8-86.9: after the synod of Adramyttion (April 1284); for the date see

Laurent, Regestes iv, N. 1470. "

48. Nikolopoulos, 'Akolouthia', 366-7.

49. ibid., 367-9; 373-4. Nikolopoulos argues that the akolouthia could not have been inserted earlier than 1310 because the patriarchate was in the control of enemies of the Arsenites until then.

50. Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', Document v (303-4); Document vi (306-11, esp. 308. 66ff); Gregoras, i. 259-62, esp. 262.

51. This event was recorded in a verse chronicle as late as 1392: J. Miiller, 'Byzantinische Analekten aus Handschriften der S. Markus-Bibliothek zi Venedig', SB Wien Phil-Hist. Klasse (1852), 56.747-9.

52. Pachymeres, ii. 83.14-84.7.

53. laurent, Regestes iv, N.1463; N. 1740; Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins, 35.



The translation of Arsenios' relic, as described by Pachymeres, gave full honours to the patriarch's memory and could well have been the occasion for which the akolouthia was written. 54 The ceremony, attended by the emperor, senate, patriarch and clergy, included hymns and panep'rics for Arsenios with the coffin containing the relic standing before the altar.f Furthermore, provision was made for the veneration of his relic. Pachymeres states that 'every third day of the week when Pe0pie went to the monastery ton Hodegon, as was customary, the coffin was opened and available to those who came [to Hagia Sophia] ,.56

Evidence for the continued veneration of Arsenios' relic in Hagia Sophia comes from travellers to Constantinople in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Five Russian travellers mention that they saw the relic of 'St Arsenios the patriarch' in the east end of the church, while one of them adds that a monk anointed him with the saint's oil. 57 The Castilian envoy Clavijo who visited Constantinople in the early fifteenth century claims that he was shown 'a sacred relic, namely the body of a certain patriarch, that was most perfectly preserved, with the bones and flesh thereon'. From his description of the position of the relic it is clear that he is referring to Arsenios.V' The preserved state of Arsenios' corpse is corroborated by Greek sources and must have been an important aspect in his recognition as a saint. 59 It was a sign of holiness which may have helped the Arsenites further their demands for the full restitution of Arsenios.

Although there is ample evidence for Arsenios' cult until the fifteenth century, with the power of healing attributed to his relic, his liturgical commemoration appears to have been short in duration. Nikolopoulos has ~ointed out that the akolouthia for Arsenios survives only in one manuscript. 0 Moreover, Arsenios is not commemorated in the Orthodox Church today.

_. What has been presented so far with regard to Arsenios is the public aspect of his recognition as a saint - the liturgical celebration of his memory, however short-lived

54. This date is more acceptable than 1310 from a codicological point of view as well.

Nikolopoulos himself admits ('Akolouthia', 367) that the akolouthia is in the same hand as the text for the months September and October between which the akolouthia is inserted. The period from the 1260s (Joseph's patriarchate) to 1310 is rather long for the same scribe to have been employed.

55. Pachyrneres, ii, 84.18-85.14.

56. Pachymeres, it 85. 17-19. At a later time the relic was moved to the monastery of St Andrew in Krisei by request of Theodora Raoulina, where it was kept until 1310: Pachymeres, ii, 85.18-86.9; Gregoras, i, 262. 1-4; Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', Documentvi(308.66-71).

57. G. Majeska, 'St Sophia in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries: The Russian Travelers on the Relics',DOP 27 (1973), 83-4.

58. ibid., 84.

59. Theodore Agallianos in Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomos Charas, 625. 25ff; Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', Document vi (308. 71-5); Manuel Kalekas, Contra Graecorum Enores, PG 152. 211 A. See Pachyrneres, ii, 480. 5-7, for the Arsenites' belief in the sanctity of the monk Kouboukleisios whose body had 'remained uncorrupted for many years'. The Arsenites 'considered him a saint and venerated him'.

60. Nikolopoulos, 'Akolouthia', 375.



that may have been, and the veneration of his relic. But it is now possible to add to 'the above hagiographical literature by reference to an unpublished encomium, • included among the collection of works written and owned by Philotheos, metro"politan of Selymbria in the second half of the fourteenth century.P! This

'Encomium for St Arsenios' gives some idea of the kind of Arsenite literature which may have been circulating from the time of the patriarch's death, if notearlier. The encomium was perhaps based on a Life of the patriarch which has not survived. In any case, it is of interest both for the biographical material it provides and for the attitudes its author expresses concerning patriarchal-imperial relations.

. The encomium, which appears to have been written for a Constantinopolitan audience,62 provides a reply to the allegations expressed by the Palaiologan party through George Akropolites, Michael VIII's faithful civil servant. In Akropolites' History Arsenios is portrayed as an undistinguished monk who was chosen patriarch in 1254 as a last-minute thought of the emperor Theodore II Laskaris when the latter was pressed for time.63 But, according to the encomium, Arsenios was the son of a Kamatere, a family which produced 'those who had power with emperors'. :He was not unknown in powerfu1.circ1es for he had been suggested as a candidate for the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem in the reign of John Batatzes.64 As for his election as patriarch of Constantinople, no mortal had a hand in this; he was God's choice. The election was conducted by opening the Bible at random in the name of each candidate and reading the first passage on the page. The reading for Arsenios was thought to be the most auspicious;6S thus, he had the stamp of divine approval.

For the author of the encomium, hagiography of Arsenios is connected with proLaskarid and ultimately, anti-Palaiologan sentiments. Theodore Laskaris and his father John Batatzes both have God-given wisdom. Theodore who 'legally succeded his father, by the vote of God, not the vote ofmen',66 was 'wise' because he understood signs from heaven. The author gives two examples of Theodore's abilities in this area which distinguish him from others, especially Michael Palaiologos.P" Arsenios' encomiast implies that Michael's lack of understanding indicates his lack oi parresia:

The views expressed by the encomiast who combines eulogy of Arsenios with pro-Laskarid sentiments need not be considered idiosyncratic. Evidence exists for a

61. cod. Patmiacus 366, ff 430v-434. On the authorship of this work see P. Magdalino, 'Byzantine Churches of Selymbria', DOP 32 (1978), 315 n.47. I wish to thank Fr Chrysostomos, the librarian of the monastery of St John the Theologian, Patmos, for allowing me to consult the manuscript. Nikolopoulos CAkolouthia', 368) has announced his intention to publish the encomium in the forthcoming volume of EEBS.

62. cod. Patmiacus 366, f 430v: 'Arsenios the shepherd and leader of this great city, I mean


63. Akropolites, ed. Heisenberg (Leipzig 1903), 106.6-107.13.

64. cod. Patmiacus, 366, f 43II; 4·33r.

65. cod. Patmiacus 366, f 43 3v.

66. cod. Patmiacus 366, f 433r.

67. cod. Patmiacus 366, f 433v; 434r.



much earlier source for these sentiments in the early Palaiologan period. Theodore ~!_:lIi~tes, bishop of Cyzicus (1277-82) gives expression to the same pro-Laskarid and Arsenite feelings in his paraphrase of Akropolites' History, written in the last quarter of the thirteenth century," 8 He knew the patriarch Arsenios" 9 and Theodore 1170 personally and shows his admiration for them as well as John Batatzes. In these passages he departs from the text of Akropolites' History, the source of his work. For example, Skoutariotes provides long eulogies of Batatzes and Theodore II where Akropolites is either parsimonious in his praise or liberal with his criticism.T' On the other hand, when Akropolites is effusive on the subject of Michael VIII's virtues, Skoutariotes is silent. 72

Furthermore, Skoutariotes' work contains material in common with the' encomium of Arsenios which is not found elsewhere. A notable example is the story of Arsenios' election as patriarch which only these two sources present as having been conducted by choosing readings from the Bible.73 However, differences in the works with respect to biographical details 74 make it impossible to consider Skoutariotes' work the source of the encomium. The latter must have had other. Ar.s.!lrJ!.klite.ratJ.lre to draw on, perhaps a vita.

-----rIle author of the encomium, writing so much later than Skoutariotes, was free to go beyond him in using Arsenios and Theodore II as symbols of the right order which existed in pre-Palaiologan days when emperors knew their place. According to Arsenios' encomiast, the emperor Theodore was 'obedient to the patriarch, doing everything according to his wishes, yielding the state to the Church'. This is only proper:

68. The authorship of the Synopsis Chronike (ed. K.N. Sathas, Mesai(jnik~ Bibliothek~, viii [Paris 1894]) was attributed to Theodore Skoutariotes by Heisenberg in BZ 5 (1896), 182- 5; idem, Analekta (Munich 1901), 12-16. This attribution was questioned by A.P. Kazhdan in Izvestiia no Instituta za Istoriia 14-15 (1964),529-30.

69. Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 549. 28ff; Heisenberg, Additamentum ad Georgii Acropolitae His-

toriam 301. Iff.

70. Synopsis, ed. Sathas, .;35.20-536.12.

71. Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 506-9; 535-6; Heisenberg, Additamentum 33 (284-8); 52 (296-8).

72. Compare Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 497, 2Hi; 527.29-528.1 with Akropolites, ed. Heisenberg 84. 4-{;; 136. 26ff. for the passages favourable to Michael Palaiologos which the Synopsis omits.

73. cod. Patmiacus 366, f 433v; Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 510. 1-26; Heisenberg. Additamentum, 288ff.

74. The author of the encomium gives no surname for Arsenios, but refers to his father's Christian name (Theodore) and his mother's full name (Eirene Kamatere): cod. Patmiacus 366, f 341; Skoutariotes (Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 509; Additamentum, 290. 1-4) calls Arsenios' father Alexios Autoreianos. Skoutariotes claims that Arsenios was chosen as an ambassador to the pope in Batatzes' reign (Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 511. 10-11; Additamentum, 290. 11-13), whereas the encomium states that the civil and ecclesiastical hierarchy wanted Arsenios to be patriarch of Jerusalem (cod. Patmiacus 366, f 433r). Skoutariotes says that there were four candidates for the patriarchal throne in 1254 (Synopsis, ed. Sathas, 510. 1-26; Additamentum 289), the encomium mentions three (cod. Patmiacus 366, f 433r).



for the anointer is greater than the anointed the one who blesses greater than the blessed one [ ... J. It is all necessary that the empero~ blessed and anoin ted, should be under the patriarch, as he is in need of grace. 5

The author of the encomium, writing at a time when the Church had taken the lead from the failing state, uses Arsenios to make a statement about the superiority of the patriarchal position. But it is not only in encomia that Arsenios'was'a symbol for the Church which had emerged stronger from the crisis of the thirteenth

_Cen!!lry: "Almost every aspect of Arsenios' recognition as a saint demonstrates the triumph of the Church over the Palaiologoi: his reinstatement in Hagia Sophia, the office celebrating him as a champion of the truth, his perfectly preserved body a source of healing. Even in the late fourteenth century, the time of the composition of the encomium, anyone could see with his own eyes that Arsenios had been blessed and his opponent damned. Philotheos, the metropolitan of Selymbria who ,is probably the author of the encomium, commented that the body of the emperor Michael lay in Selymbria in the monastery of Christ Saviour, 'all bloated' because of 'fiTS-heterodoxy and because of the excommunication which 'the most holy patriarch Arsenios pronounced against him,.76 Michael never received proper burial rites; his corpse was left near the place of his death, 'a plaything and laughing-stock even to his own children'. 77 Agallianos, writing in the fifteenth century, invites anyone who has doubts about the sanctity of Arsenios and the damnation of Michael to 'judge for himself [ ... ] put them [the corpses] side by side [ ... ] and tell me with conscience which is the excommunicate and which the saint. But this is obvious

even to a blind person'. 78 .

If Agallianos and others before him attributed Michael's eternal damnation to the power of Arsenios' excommunication, they also acknowledged the part played by Michael's declaration of Union with the Church of Rome. 79 The latter came to be the dominant issue of his reign and the reason for which his name is missing

75. cod. Patrniacus 366, f 434v. The manuscript is unfortunately incomplete and stops here.

See Blemmydes' comment on Theodore II's attitude toward Church-state relations: A. Heisenberg, Nicephori Blemmydae Curriculum Vitae et Carmina (Leipzig 1896), 42. 5-7.

76. See P. Magdalino, 'Byzantine Churches of Selyrnbria', 314-15 and n. 46. Compare Philotheos' comment on the reasons for Michael's bloated state with that of the fourteenth century unionist Kaleka!l: PG 152. 211A.

77. Theodore Agallianos in' Dositheos of J erusalern, Tomas Charas, 626; Pachymeres, ii. 107-8; Gregoras i. 159. 17-24.

78. Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomos Charas, 627. Agallianos uses the word tympanias to describe Michael's corpse. On this term see Du Cange, Glossarium ad Scriptores mediae et infimae Graecitatis (Lyons 1688), 1621; also D.M. Nicol, 'The Byzantine Reaction to the Second Council of Lyons, 1274', Studies in Church History 7 (1971), 137-8.

79. Philotheos of Selyrnbria names Michael's 'heterodoxy' first and Arsenios' excommunication second. as the reasons for the emperor's bloated state: Magdalino, 'Byzantine Churches of Selymbria', 314-15. For reactions against the Union see also D.J. Geanakoplos, Emperor Michael Palaeolosus. 237ff; idem. 'A Greek Libellus against Religious Union with Rome after the Council of Lyons (1274)', Interaction of the 'Sibling' Byzantine and Western Cultures in the Middle Ages and Italian Renaissance (330·1600) (New Haven-London 1976), 156-170; D.M. Nicol, 'The Byzantine Reaction to the Second Council of Lyons, 1274', 113-46.



from the commemorative list of emperors in the Synodikon for the Sunday of Orthodoxy.80 Those who suffered persecution for opposing union were restored and honoured after his death in the reign of Andronikos 11.81 The patriarch Joseph and the monk Meletios are the most celebrated cases. 82

Patriarch Joseph

Although the Arsenites considered Joseph's position as patriarch uncanonical.V they could not denounce him for supporting Michael VIII on the question of union. The ~triarch resigned in 1275 over this issue, having made a statement of his faith. Andronikos IT restored Joseph to the patriarchal throne in 128285 but the patriarch.jinable to carry on because of ill health, resigned a few months later just before his death. 86

Laurent has stated that Joseph was 'canonised' by the patriarch Gregory II, his ~ successor, soon after his death, by synodal act.87 Although the act does not survive, it is mentioned in the chrysobull of 1310 which Andronikos II issued to announce a resolution of the Arsenite schism. In this document Andronikos refers to the earlier proclamation (anakeryxis) of the Church which he was forced to revoke to meet the requirements of the Arsenites. The anakeryxis stated that Joseph was 'equal in name to the others who had not resigned, the same in faith and the same as those who died while on the throne in similar struggles and conditions'. 88

What was the exact nature of the proclamation which Andronikos had revoked under pressure from the Arsenites? Contemporaries stated that the Arsenites complained about 'the mnemosynon of Joseph', or 'the annual commemoration of', Joseph as patriarch in the Church'. 89 They therefore give the impression that the

80. J. Gouillard, 'Le Synodikon de I'Orthodoxie: edition et commentaire', TM 2 (1967),97, (812-15 and n. 327); also 30 and 261. See, by contrast, the attention accorded to John Batatzes and his son Theodore II: 97 (810-13); 258.

81. Pachyrneres, ii. 17-19; Gregoras, i. 160; D.M. Nicol, 'The Byzantine Reaction to the Second Council of Lyons, 1274', 132-9.

82. See also the Lives of Athonite monks who were martyrs for the cause of orthodoxy: F.

Halkin, BHG3, 223; M. Zfvojmovic, 'Sveta Gora i Lionska Unija', Sbornik Radova Vizantoioskog Instituta 18 (1978),141-53.

83. According to the Arsenites he had usurped the patriarchal throne from an unjustly deposed patriarch and he had been excommunicated by Arsenios before he came to the patriarchal throne: see Arsenios, 'Testament', PG 140. 956 D. See also the arguments put ~o~~ by .the J~seph!te John ~eifasmetropolitan of Ephesus: "J.,Darr~u_zes, Documents inedits d'ecclesiologie byzantine (AOC 10 [1966]), 9lff; 385. l1;V. r;auteilt~ 'L'excom- ' munication du patriarche Joseph Ier par lion predecesseur Arsene', BZ 30 (1929-30), 489-96; idem., 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', 240, 257-60.

84. V. Laurent and 1. Darrouzes, Dossier grec de l'Union de Lyon (1273-1277) (AOC 16 [1976]),88-90; 509-17; Pachyrneres, i. 399. 5-7; ii. 35.{i; Laurent, Regestes iv, N. 1408.

85. Pachyrneres, ii. 18; Laurent, 'La chronologie des patriarches de Constantinople au XIUe

s. (1208-1309),,145-6.

86. Pachymeres, ii. 37.10; 38.1; 38.16-18.

87. Laurent, Regestes iv, N. 1461: 1283; idem., 'La fin du schisme Arsenite, 257.{i0.

88. Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', 299.78-300.101.

89. Pachymeres, ii. 82.14-17; Cheilas in Darrouzes, Documents inedits, 375.



synodal proclamation had to do with the inclusion of Joseph's name in the list of patriarchs read once a year on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.Y'' The recording of a patriarch's name in the Synodikon was routine, except in cases such as Joseph's where resignation was involved.91 A synodal decision was necessary to reinstate the patriarch 'equal to the others who had not resigned'. Needless to say, Andronikos

. II, crowned emperor by Joseph in 1272, would have been anxious to secure the canonical standing of this patriarch.92 The Arsenites, however, could not countenance the commemoration of a man whom they claimed had been excommunicated by Arsenios.93 Perhaps it was to appease the Arsenites on this matter that Andronikos allowed the relic of Arsenios to be translated to Constantinople in 1284.94

The synodal proclamation appears to have had no other object than to place ',Joseph among the ranks of those who were guardians of orthodoxy. But Laurent . claims that the anakeryxis was a declaration of Joseph's sanctity as well.9s He bases this opinion mainly on a letter of a supporter of Joseph, the monk Methodios, to the patriarch Gregory, written sometime in the years 1286.8.96 In this letter Methodios refers to the patriarch Joseph as 'among the Confessors,.97 Laurent infers that when Joseph was reinstated in the list of patriarchs, he was acclaimed an

'homolofetes or confessor. There are other, later references to Joseph the Confessor las well. 8 Certainly the epithet was appropriate in view of his defense of orthodoxy against Michael VIII's Union.

But if Joseph was proclaimed an homologetes when he was reinstated one would expect to find him mentioned as such in the Synodikon to which he was once again restored sometime after 1310.99 The Synodikon of Constantinople in its edited form bears no trace of the epithet. Only the Synodikon of Lacedaernonia refers to Joseph as the New Confessor but this special mention - out of keeping with the rest

90. See Pachymeres, i. 399.6, where mnemosynon is used to indicate the mention of a name in the diptychs. See Cheilas for use of the word anakeryxis to refer to commemoration of a name in the Synodik6n: Darrouzes, Documents inedits, 382.8. See Gouillard, 'Le Synodikori', 11, 253: Beck, Kirche, 155.

91. Gouillard, 'Le Synodikon', 261. On 'resignation' see Cyril of Alexandria in G.A. Rhalles

and M. Poties, Syntagma tnn theion kai hieron kanonon (Athens 1852·9), iv, 359-60.

92. Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', 240.

93. Pachyrneres, ii. 467. 11-468.8: also see n.83 above.

94. Pachymeres, ii. 82.14-17: complaint of Joseph's mnemosynon; Pachymeres, ii. 83.8-12:

Andronikos agrees to the translation of the relic.

95. Laurent, 'La fin du schisme Arsenite', 257; idem., Regestes iv. N. 1461.

96. Laurent-Darrouzes, Dossier grec, 91-2; 519-27; esp. 525.1-22.

97. Laurent-Darrouzes, op.cit., 525, 7-8.

98. Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos, 'Diegesis peri ton eniskopon Byzantiou kai ton Patriarch6n panton Konstantinoupoleds', PG 147. 568. This work was written in the rust quarter of the fourteenth century: see Beck, Kirche, 705.

99. Gouillard 'Le Synodikon', 105 (895). Goui11ard (261) suggests that Joseph's name was .added to the Synodikon after 1320, with the return of Theoleptos of Philadelphia to Constantinople. See Laurent, 'Les crises religieuses a Byz ance. Le schisme antiarsenite du Metropolite de Philadelphie Theolepte (+ c.1324)" REB 18 (1960),45-54.



of the entries in the list of patriarchs - is rendered even more suspicious by the appearance of the epithet next to Arsenios' name as well. 100

Therefore, although there is evidence that Joseph was honoured as a confessor, . it is not clear how the epithet came to be attached to his name. Furthermore, Joseph's reputation as a saint seems to stand on this acclamation alone. For, as Laurent has remarked, no office for Joseph has survived nor, indeed, is there any evidence of a cult.101 The testimony of Aga1lianos, the fifteenth-century patriarchal functionary, would seem to be conclusive evidence on this subject. In his 'Dialogue against the Latins' Agallianos lists John Batatzes, John IV Laskaris, Arsenios and Meletios, the other homologetes of the period, as saints with a reputation for working miracles.102 But he is silent with regard to Joseph, whom he surely would have included because of his anti-Latin position if only a cult had existed. Joseph, in fact, is the only one of the thirteenth-century saints discussed here for whom there ~ no evidence of popular veneration. His elevation to the status of confessor, one of ' the categories of sainthood, appears to have been completely controlled by the civil' and ecclesiastical hierarchies. But what is perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that his name was at some time introduced into the calendar of the patriarchate; he is commemorated today on 30 October. 103 It is ironic that the Arsenites, who won in 1310, lost in the long run.

Meletios the Confessor

For Meletios the Confessor (I 209-86) there is much more direct evidence and an altogether fuller 'dossier'. Meletios suffered exile twice under Michael VIII, as well as mutilation for his anti-Union stand. He entered into open contlict with the court from the time of Joseph's deposition. After Michael's death he played a large part' in the restoration of the churches to Orthodoxy. 104 In addition to his Life, written by Makarios, metropolitan of Philadelphia,105 Agallianos gives an account of his persecution and the subsequent recognition of his sanctity. According to him" Meletios' corpse, like that of Arsenios, remained uncorrupted and was a source of miracles.U" Agallianos also gives a full account of the manner in which Meletios' sanctity was recognised. The patriarch Esaias (1323-34) convened a synod which

100. RJ.H. Jenkins and C. Mango, 'A Synodicon of Antioch and Lacedaemonia', DOP 15

(1961),230. For the date of the entry see Gouillard, 'Le Synodikon', 277-8 and n.170.

101. Laurent, Regestes iv, N. 1461 Crit.

102. Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomos Charas, 622,625.

103. S. Eustratiades, Hagiologion tes Orthodoxes Ekklesias (Athens, n.d.), s.v. 30 October. The date does not correspond to Joseph's date of death (March: Pachymeres, ii, 38.16) and since there is no evidence of a cult, the October date is puzzling.

104. Pachymeres i. 462.15ff; 489. 2-5; ii. 17.3-10; Nicol, 'The Second Council of Lyons', 132-5. 1. Petit, DTC 10. 536-8; Laurent-Darrouzes, Dossier grec, 104-12. On Meletios' anti-Latin works see A. Argyriou, 'Rernarques sur quelques listes grecques enumerant les heresies latines', ByzF 4 (1972), 23-4; also Laurent-Darrouzes, Dossier grec, 554-63.

105. S Lauriotes, Gregorios ho Palamas 5 (1921), 582-6; 609-24; Ho Athos (1928), 9-11.

106. Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomas Charas, 617ff, 622, 625, 626, 633.



examined the evidence for miracles and voted to 'honour him and celebrate him as , a true saint'. 107 Agallianos claims that from that time on his memory was celebrated in the monastery of St Lazaros in Constantinople on _19 J an~~ of every year. lOS He is still commemorated in the Greek Orthodox Church today. 09

A revival of interest in saints

The five men discussed above, who practically monopolised the title of saint in the early Palaiologan period, constitute an important group for the history of

'Byzantine saints and sainthood. They represent the beginning of a revival in the interest in saints after a long period in which saints were little in evidence and hagiography almost non-existent. For, as has been remarked, the years of the Latin 'occupation (1204-61) and even the twelfth century were not prosperous times for

saints. The five early Palaiologan cases can therefore help us to understand why it , was that saints enjoyed a revival.

As should have become clear from the above exposition of the saints' lives, the story of their recognition, veneration, and later use by ecclesiastical writers cannot be separated from the 'sins' of Michael Palaiologos, his usurpation of imperial power from the Laskaris family and his union with Rome. Had the empire's affairs prospered in his reign and in those of his descendants our five saints might never have received the attention which they did. But instead, the relative peace and prosperity which the Laskarids brought to Asia Minor was completely destroyed in the

'last quarter of the thirteenth century.

It was precisely at this time that a revived interest in saints takes place: the writing of hagiography begins again to assume its former importance 11 0 and there is evidence for the veneration of our saints. This is also the period of the Church's assumption of a ~o~ttion of leadership. The correspondence of the-palffarch Athanasios (1289-93; 1303-9) illustrates to what extent the Church tOQ~_2y~!J!Qm the state. ttt Athanasios himself is perhaps the first example of the return of the ascettc-to his foimer position of authority and importance in society!12 In the early Palaiologan period, then, peorle turned to substitute leaders, be they former imperial and ecclesiastical figures! 3 or contemporary holy men, to fill the void created by the Palaiologan failure.

107. ibid., 626, 633, 1. Darrouzes, Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople v (Paris 1977), N. 2132 (11327).

108. Dositheos of Jerusalem. Tomos Charas, 626. According to Pachvrneres, at the time of his writing (c. 1307), Meletios was considered a saint and his relic lay in the monastery of St Lazaros (ii. 17. 8-9); see also Janin, La geographie Liii, 298.

109. S. Eustratiades,Hagiologion, s.v.19 January.

110. See Beck, n.3. above.

111. See A.-M. Maffry Talbot, The Correspondence of Athanasius J, passim; idem., 'The Patriarch Athanasius (1289-1293; 1303-1309) and the Church', DOP 27 (1973),13-28; D.M. Nicol, Church and Society, 11-12,29.

112. Pachymeres, ii. 107-9; Maffry Talbot, Correspondence, Introduction.

113. St Theodora of Arta, wife of the ruler of Epiros, Michael II, is another example of a 'dynastic' rather than ascetic saint from the thirteenth century, Like our five saints,



-Methods of canonisation

A discussion of the saints of this period must include a reference to the way in which sanctity was recognised in the Orthodox Church. The early Palaiologan period is a crucial time with respect to this question for it has been remarked that the late thirteenth and the fourteenth century saw a change in the way sanctity was recognised, a change brought about, it would seem, by contact with the Latin

-Church in -The course of the thirteenth century.P" The period provides several examples of canonisation by synodal decree,115 with a greater emphasis on bureaucracy and an insistence on the evidence of miracles - elements which closely resemble the canonisation procedure of the Western Church from the eleventh century. 116

The three best known cases in which this procedure was used are those of Meletios (d.1286), the patriarch_Athanasios (d.c.1315), and Gregory Palamas (d.1359). We are fortunate in possessing detailed descriptions for Palamas and' M~~tios: by the patriarch Philotheos (13534; 1368-76) in his Tomos of 1368 and by ,TheOdore Agallianos, in his 'Dialogue against the Latins' written in the 1440s. According to PIillotJieos;members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy collected written testim~_y [rom those who had experienced miraculous cures through contact with

Piilainas' relic. The synod then made a decision with regard to Palamas' sanctity.

Although Philotheos does not give details with regard to the patriarch Athanasios' case, he claims that a similar procedure was used.117 Theodore Agallianos states that testimony for the miraculous powers of Meletios' relic was put to a 'great and exacting test'. us Comparison of this evidence with a contemporary Western example, the canonisation of Louis IX of France, for which witnesses' testimony

asceticism was not the dominant element in her veneration as a saint. Rather. her leadership qualities were more important in the formation of her cult. For her thirteenthcentury Life by the monk Job see A. Moustoxides, Hellenomnemon 1-12 (1843-54),42-3; also .PC 127. 9<!4f(,.On the author see L. Vranoussis, Chronika tes Epeirou i, (Ioannina 1962), 49-54; E. Trapp, W. Rainer, H.-V. Beyer, Prosopographisches Lextkon der Palatologenzeit i.4 (Vienna 1980), 92 n.7959.

114. No systematic treatment of the subject exists. There are only scattered references. Beck (Kirche, 274) and P. Joannou (LThK, s.v. 'Heilig', 92) note a change in the late Byzantine period, without commenting on its origin. A. Alibizatos ('He Anagnorisis ton hagion en teorthodoxe ekklesia', Theologia 19 (1941-8), 37-41) attributes the change to Western influence. See also the suggestion at the end of the paper by J. Munitiz, 'Self-Canonisation',

below. .

115. Joseph (1283): Laurent Regestes iv, N. 1461; idem., 'La fin du schisme Arsenite' 257-60 290 n.1, 300. tdeletios (c. 1327): Darrouzes, Regestes v, N. 2132. Athanasio; (befor~

_.1368): Darrouzes, Regestes v, N. 2540, refers to Athanasios' case but does not give him a separat~ entry. Athan~ios' ca!l0n.isation will be discussed by .Professor A.-M. Maffry Talbot In her forthcoming publication of the logos on the translation of Athanasios' relics. Palamas (1368): Darrouzes, Regestes v, N. 2540, 2430.

116. Dictionnaire de spiritualite ii, s.v. 'canonisation', 77-85; P. Delooz , Sociologie et canonisattons (La Haye 1969), 24-32. This book provides a clear exposition of canonisation in the West since the schism.

117. Philotheos, 'Tomus contra Prochorum Cydonium', PC 151. 711·12.

118. Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomas Charas, 633; Darrouzes, Regestes v, N. 2132.



has survived, shows the same insistence on investigation of miracles. 119 Although no comparable 'dossier' survives for the Byzantine saints, the logos on the translation of Athanasios' relics, with its catalogue of cures and circumstantial details of the name, profession and hometown of each pilgrim, reads like a dossier of evidence for canonisation.P?

These examples illustrate a procedure for the recognition of sanctity which appears to differ greatly from what is known of Byzantine practice in earlier periods. For it is generally accepted that recognition of sanctity in the earlier period consisted of the consent and acclamation of a local community. A cult would develop around the physical remains of a person which would have some or all of the following elements: veneration of the relic and miracles, translation of the relic, writing of an akolouthia and vita, painting of an icon of the saint, celebration of the saint's memory on the anniversary of his or her death. The name and feast day of the saint would be recorded in the calendar of the local church or monastery

with which he was associated.P! .

By contrast, the cases of the three Palaiologan saints seem to indicate a much more formal and structured practice, with the stamp of patriarchal and sYl!.Q.gal .approval an essential element in the recognition of sanctity. This apparent difference is even reflected in the terminology used to describe the practices. Some use the word 'canonisation' only to refer to cases in which there was a synodal decision on the matter;122 for others canonisation describes the recognition of sanctity, be it by a local community through its veneration and writing of an office and vita, or by the ecclesiastical hierarchy through its issue of a formal statement. 1 23 The confusion in terminology is further aggravated by expressions such as 'official canonisation' in contrast to 'popular veneration', a usage implying that a person is not properly considered a saint until there has been a synodal pronouncement on the matter.

It is necessary, therefore, to ascertain what part patriarchal and synodal approval played in the recognition of sanctity. Was it in fact a new element introduced to Byzantine practice late in the history of the empire and, furthermore, was this approval the sine qua non of sanctity?

Philotheos' Tomos of 1368 clearly states what function the synodal decision had in the cases of Palarnas and Athanasios. According to the patriarch, both men

119. See H.-F. Delaborde, 'Fragments de I'enquete faite a Saint-Denis en 1282 en vue de la canonisation.de saint-Louis', Memoires de la societe de l'histoire de Paris et de l'ile de France xiii (1896),1-71.

120. I am indebted to Professor A.-M. Maffry Talbot for sharing with me the results of her work on the logos.

121. See Beck, Kirche, 274; Dictionnaire de spiritualite ii. 71-lt'i. K.M, Ringrose, 'Monks and Society in Iconoclastic Byzantium', Byzantium Studies/Etudes Byzantines 6 (1979), 135 n.12; Alibizatos, Theologia 19 (1941-8), 21ff.

122. See P. Joannou in LThK, 92.

123. Laurent, 'La fm du schisme Arsenite", 259 and n.6; idem., Regestes iv, N. 1461; Sevcenko, 'Notes on Stephen', 173.



enjoyed considerable veneration from their followers in Constantinopolitan monasteries and on Athos before the synodal decisions.P" Philotheos emphasises the point that anyone who wishes is free to celebrate the memory of Palamas without any hindrance but he is not celebrated in the Great Church or in any other church

ersiiwhere until the holy synod has proclaimed on this matter. According to Philotheos 'this is common practice with regard to the saints whom God glorifies'. 125 He gives the example of Athanasios who for many years after his death was venerated by the monks of his monastery in Constantinople. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy each year his icon was carried to Hagia Sophia in a great procession, 'but after the holy synod pronounced on this, he was celebrated also in the Great Qwrch,.126

Phllotheos' statement on the significance of the synodal decision with regard to . sainthood is as explicit as one could hope. The patriarch and synod do not reserve . the right to confer recognition of sanctity. This can take place with the tacit consent of the Church, 'as is the case with many other men and women saints, whose relics lie in many monasteries in the capital and are celebrated by anyone' who wishes, although the Church has never pronounced on this'. 127 The synodal i

r decision Is merely a means of widening the area of a saint's veneration, of promot"\ ing veneration beyond its original local community limits. It is not so much a question of 'official' versus 'popular' veneration as it is one of 'local' versus 'Constantinopolitan' recognition. In fact, the synodal decision may always have been the means by which a saint's name and feast day were entered into the calendar of Hagia Sophia. The lack of evidence from earlier periods makes it difficult to know

for certain. But it is clear that in the Palaiologan period the synodal decision conferred awider sphere of veneration to a saint.

This wider recognition was of particular significance for men and women who. played important roles in ecclesiastical controversies in the capital, as was the case with Palamas, Athanasios and Meletios. Their followers would be especially anxious, to see that the object of their veneration received more attention. So it was that', Philotheos and his predecessor on the patriarchal throne, Kallistos (1350-3; 1355-

OJ); both ardent supporters of Palamas, made efforts to collect testimony to' miracles worked by his relic.128 The insertion of Palamas' name and feast day into . ,!he calendar of Hagia Sophia was a means of giving recognition to the doctrines he espoused. Similar reasons could have been at work in the case of Athanasios' wider recognttion.P? As far as Meletios is concerned, his importance as an opponent to

124. PC 15). 711·12; Palamas in the monastery of the Akataleptos and at Laura, Athanasios at


125.PC 151. 7110, 712A. 126. PC 151. 712A. 127.PC 151. 712B.

128. PC 151. 71IeD; Darrouzes, Regestes v. N. 2430, 2540.

129. Professor A.oM. Maffry Talbot, in her forthcoming publication of the logos on the translation of the relics, suggests several links between A thanasios and Palamites.


Michael Vlll's union with Rome is clear. The significance of a synodal decision in the patriarchate of Esias (1323-34), at a time when Andronikos II was making tentative efforts at union with Rome, speaks for itself. 130

The significance of miracles

The central role which these men played in Constantinople during their lives is also perhaps significant for understanding why their canonisation by synod placed such emphasis on proof of miracles. The more well-known and controversial the figure, the more care might have to be exercised in spreading his veneration by entering his feast day into the calendar of Hagia Sophia. Opponents and enemies would have to be convinced. Philotheos says that he first began to collect evidence of Palamas' miracles because of those who had their doubts and were not entirely convinced by the reports of miracles. 131

The insistence on proof of miracles may have owed its importance in the Palaiologan period to yet another factor. The 'Dialogue against the Latins' by

_~_gallianos can provide some insight into the question. In this work, written in the 144~ when the churches in Constantinople were staffed by Uniate clergy, 132 Agallianos discusses whom the Eastern and Western Churches considered saints and why. The saints of the Western Church are not, in his opinion, true saints for they have been designated saints by men, not by God. The Western Church bestows sainthood on men without God's approval, that is, without evidence of miracles. 133 The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, has a great number of miracle-workers, an indication that God's grace is with them and not with the Latins. Among the post-schism saints named by AgalIianos are Batatzes, John Laskaris, Arsenios, Meletios and Athanasios. He discusses the cases of Arsenios and Meletios in detail, for their uncorrupted bodies were a sign of sanctity. Apparently, however, some people dared to attribute their incorruptibility to the pope's excommunication. Agallianos argues that this allegation is ridiculous because the pope's excommunication has no force. 134

Agallianos' apologia for Byzantine saints gives an indication of the climatewhich discussions on Union may have created. Although he was writing a long time after our saints, it is possible to see that preparations for Union in the thirteenth century could also have been an occasion for defining how the Churches stood with regard

130. Darrouzes, Regestes v. N. 2132, suggests a date sometime before 1327 for the synodal decision. Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins, 326ff, dates Andronikos II's unionist attempts to 1324-7.

131. PC 151. 711B.

132. Dositheos of Jerusalem, Tomos Charas, 610.

133. Dositheos of Jerusalem, op.cit., 621-2, 627.

134. Dositheos of Jerusalem, op.cit., 621-2, 624-5. Further proof of the Latins' lack of God's .grace, according to Agallianos (622), is the fact that relics of Byzantine saints taken to the West ceased to perform miracles there. For a similar statement made by Joseph Brvennios in the fifteenth century see H. Delehaye, 'Les Actes de S. Barbarus', AnaiBo1l29 (1910), 286.



to saints recognised since the schism. We should perhaps see the emphasis on proof, of miracles in this context. It was not a question of the Eastern Church's adoption of Western methods of recognising sanctity. Rather, the Orthodox Church needed' to exercise more caution in the face of internal and external pressures. This is particularly understandable in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries with the ecclesiastical controversies of the Arsenite schism, Union and Hesychasm.

However, ill the final analysis, it is not possible to be certain whether insistence on proof of miracles was in fact more marked in the Palaiologan period than earlier. The evidence which exists is limited and basically relates to Athanasios, Palamas, and Meletios.135 Had it not been for the controversial nature of their careers we might never have learned of the manner in which their sanctity was recognised by the holy synod.

135. A reference to proof of miracles is made by the patriarch John Kalekas (1339) to the metropolitan of Russia, concerning Peter of Kiev's relic: Darrouzes, Regestes v, N.2192.


Saintete et Pouvoir


S AINTETE et pouvoir, ce sont les pouvoirs du saint, et aussi leur articulation aux formes du pouvoir social et politique. Je voudrais poser cette double question dans la perspective d'une recherche sur les rapports entre la societe, le pourvoir, et les recits justificatifs de ce dernier dans l'histoire de 8yzance aux IXe- XIe siecles.! Mon dossier sera constitue d'une trentaine de personnages dont I'existence se place au cours de cette periode, de me me que, sauf exception, la redaction de leur Vie. Voici d'abord leur liste, incomplete et provfsoire.f mais dont auraient ete ecartes, en tout etat de cause, -tant l'Italie byzantine que les saints trop exclusivement illustres par le combat pour les images, par exemple J oannikios. 3

Designation Date(s) Date et auteur Le plus ancien
de la Vie manuscrit connu
Philarete le Misericordteux 792 821/22: Genuens. 34, Xle s.
le moine Nikthas,
son petit-fils et
fils spirituel+
Nikephoros de Medikion 813 entre 824 et 8375: Monac, 366, fin du
le moine Theos- Ixe s.
teriktos (?)
Platon de Sakkoudion 814 entre 814 et 826: Vat. 1660, A. 916
Theodore Stoudite,
son neveu et fils
spirituelss 1. Voir pour une epoque anterieure les observations de L. Cracco Ruggini, 'Potere e carismi in eta Imperiale', Studi Storici 1979 (3), 585-607.

2. Classement chronologique. Vne date unique est celle du deces, Pour chaque Vie, la redaction et Ie manuscrit releves sont les plus anciens a rna connaissance: mais mon tableau est entierement tributaire des editions exist antes. Deux references vont de soi: Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca 3e ed. par F. Halkin (Bruxelles 1957) (cite ci-apres comme BHG3); Auctarium BHG par le rnerne (Bruxelles 1969); H.G. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959).

3. Serie etudiee par I. ~ev~enko, 'Hagiography of the Iconoclast period' in A. Bryer, J.

Herrin, ed.,lconoclosm (Birmingham 1977), 113-31.

4. M.-H. Fourmy, M. Leroy, 'La Vie de S. Philarete',Byzantion 9 (1934), 85-170.

5. Ed. F. Halkin,AnalBo1l78 (1960), 401-25.

6. PG 99. 804-49.


Theophane le Confesseur 817 avant 847: le
Theodore Stoudite 826 Vie B; un moine Vat. 1669
contemporain, (Cryptof.), xe s,
Vie A: Theodore Monac. 467, XIe s,
Daphnopates {?)8
Nicephore [le patriarche] 829 peu apres: Vat. 1809, xe s.
Ignatios prepose au
tresor de la Grande
Pierre d'Atroa 773-837 vers 847: le moine Marc. 583, entre
Sabas10 950 et 1000
Makarios de Pelekete mort entre son successeur Paris. 548, XIe s.
829 et 842 Sabas l l
Nicolas Stoudite 12 868 Paris. 1452, xe s.
Pierre l'Athonite milieu xe s.13 Ath. Lavra D 79,
du Ixe s. debut du XUe s,
Ignatios (le patriarche] 877 entre 901 et 912: Vat. 1452, XVIe s.
Niketas David
Paphlago l+
Constantin de Synnada 1 5 sous Basile Ie apres la mort de Med. Laur. IX 14,
de Basile: un moine XIe s.
Evaristos Stoudite16 819-97 Paris. 11 71, xe s. 7. Zapiski Russkoi Akademii nauk po ist.-fil. otd, VIlle ser, xili.4 (1918), 140. Sur les autres Vies, cf. BHC3. 1788-91.

8. Vie B (BHC3. 1754): PC 99.233-328. Vie A (BHC3. 1755): PC 99. 113-232. Cf. C.

Thomas, Theodor von Studion und sein Zeitalter (Inaug. Diss. Leipzig 1892). 'Si Pat:>hnopates est vraiment I'auteur de la Vie A [ ... ) il s'est contente d'une retouche Iegere de sa source, car l'orateur Jade un peu partout cornme un moine studite' (Theodore Daphnopates, Correspondance, ed. J. Darrouzes et L.G. Westerink [Paris 1978),5-6). Une Vie C (BHCJ. 1755d) serait due a un moine stoudite du Ixe siecle, elle se rencontre dans le manuscrit 520 du Musee Rurnjanzev, du XIUe siecle, provenant du Mont Athos, cf. V. Latyshev, VizVrem 21 (1912), 258-304.

9. Ed. De Boor, Nicephori opuscula historica (Leipzig 1880), 139-217. Cf. P.1. Alexander, The Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople. Ecclesiastical Policy and Image Worship in the Byzantine Empire (Oxford 1958).

10. La Vie merveilleuse de saint Pierre d'Atroa (+837) ed. V. Laurent (Bruxelles 1956).

11. Ed. Van den Gheyn,A1IIllBoll16 (1897),142-63.

12. PC 105. 863-925.

13. Ed. K. Lake, The Early Days of Monasticism on Mount Athas (Oxford 1909), 18-39 (datation du manuscrit, 9). Cf. D. Papachryssanthou, 'La Vie ancienne de saint Pierre l' Athonite. Date, composition et valeur historique', A1IIl1Boll92 (1974), 19-61.

14. PC 105. 488-574. La date suivant R.H. Jenkins, 'A note on Nicetas David Paphlago and the Vita Ignatii', DOP 19 (1965), 241-7.

15. ActaSS Nov. IV. 657-69. Constantin, ne juif', se trouve chretien a la suite d'un signe de croix dont il a signe sa bouche apres un baillement, suivant l'usage populaire, Sans prejuger de I'authenticite du personnage, il est tent ant de rapprocher son exernplarite du decret de conversion obligato ire pris par Basile Ie, cf. A. Sharf, Byzantine Jewry from Justinian to the Fourth Crusade (Londres 1971), 82 et s.

16. Ed. Van de Vorst, A1IIllBo1l41 (1923), 295-325.


Euthymios Ie jeune 898 apres 905: Mosq. Syn, B. 387,
Basile archeveque de xre s. (?)
Thessaloni~ue (ne
vers 860)1
Demetrianos beque de Chytrl18 Ixe_xe s, Sinait. 789, xne s.
( composite)
Blaise d'Amorion entre 909 un contemporairq Paris. 1491, xe s.
et 912 moine stoudite l
Euthymios (Ie patriarche} 917 un moine de son Berol, f. 55, A.
rnonastere de Psama- 1080-1100.
Nikephoros de Milet enfant sous apres 97621 Paris. 1188,
Romain Ie XIIIe s.
Luc lejeune 953 avant 96222 Sinait. 514, xe s.
Paul Ie jeune 955 apres 975: un moine Paris. 1490, Xle s.
du mont Latros23
Lue le stylite 879-979 en 980-5: un temoin Paris. 1458, Xle s,
oculaire24 .
Michel Malei"nos2 5 894-961 Athon, Lavra D79,
debut du xne s.
Andre le Fou Volontaire ? fin IXe-deb. Xe s.26 Fgmt onciale Xe s.
dans Ie Monac.
443, xrve s.
Basile Ie Nouveau 27 actif apres 959 1. un contemporain 1. Paris 1547,
A. 128628
2. Athon. Ivir. 478,
xme s.29 17. Ed. L. Petit, ROChr 8 (1903), 168-205. cr. D. Papachryssanthou, Actes du Protaton (Paris

1975), intr., 22-31.

18. Ed. H. Gregoire, BZ 16 (1907), 217-37.

19. AetaSS Nov. IV, 657-69.

20. Ed. P. Karlin-Hayter, Vita Euthymii patriarchae CP (Bruxelles 1970).

21. Ed. H. Delehaye in: ;rho Wiegand, /)er Latmos (MILET iii. 1) (Berlin 1913), 157-71. Cf. 1.

Gouillard, Annuaire Ecole pro Htes Etudes, Se. relig. (1975-6), 348-9.

22. PG 111.441-80, complete par E. Martini, AnalBoll13 (1894), 81-121.

23. Ed. Delehaye, in: Wiegand, Der Latmos (op.cit, • .n.21>. 105-35~ repris d'une premiere publication dans AnalBoll 11 (1892), 5-74 et 136-82, 011 il signale trois manuscrits du Xl" siecle. SUI l'auteur, cf. H. Delehaye, 'La Vie de saint Paul Ie jeune (t 955) et la chronologie de Metaphraste' (1893), Melanges d'hagiographie greeque et latine (Bruxelles 1966), 84-116.

24. Ed. F. Vanderstuyf, PO xi.2 (1914), 189-287. La chronologie est acceptee par H.

Delehaye, Les saints stylites (Bruxelles 1923), lxxxvi-ci.

25. Ed. L. Petit, ROChr 7 (1902),549-68. SUI Ie rnanuscrit, ci-dessus n.13.

26. PG 111. 625-888: seule edition couramment accessible pour une tradition complexe, cf.

BHG3 115z-117k, et S. Murray, A Study of the Life of Andreas, the Fool for the Sake of Christ (Bema-Leipzig 1910). La date de composition suivant S. M urray, et 1. Grosdidier de Matons, 'Les themes d'edification dans la Vie d'Andre Sales', TM 4 (1970), 277-328. C. Mango pense que Ie noyau de l'oeuvre remonte au vue siecle (communication verbale). Je suivrai pour rna part S. Murray, en raison des preoccupations de I'oeuvre que nous connaissons, cf. E. Patlazean, 'Byzance et son autre monde. Observations sur quelques

Nikon 'Repentez-vouz'sv


apres 1025

Athon. Kutlum. 210, A. 1630


Athanase de Lavra

vers 1001

avant 1025, et merne Mosq. Syn, Bibl,

1010: moine de 398, XIe s. (prov.

Lavra de Lavra)31

apres 1052 (ou Paris. 1610 et

plutot 1054): Paris. Coisl. 292,

Niketas Stethatos32 XIye s.

symeon le Nouveau Theologien


Irene abbesse de Chrysobalantones sous Michel III apres l'avenement Laur, plut. 10 cod.
de Basile Ie 31, xv- S.
Athanasia d'Egine IXe S. Vat. 1660,
A. 91634
Marie la jeune35 vers 902 apres 1025 Vat. 800, xrv=
xve S. Ath. Lavra
K 81, xrv= S.
Theodora de Thessaloniquebb 812-92 894: Mosq. 159 b
un clerc local xnte S.
Theodora (imperatricej3' 867 source de 'Georges Londin. B.M. Add.
Ie Moine continue' 2870, A. 1111 recits', Faire Croire au Moyen Age (Table ronde de l'Ecole francaise de Rome et de I'Universite de Padoue 1979, sous presse).

27. Cf. H. Gregoire, P. Orgels, 'L'invasion hongroise dans la "Vie de S. Basile le jeune",' Byzantion 24 (1954), 147-56.

28. ActaSS Mart. III, 3e M. Suppl. 20-32: complete d'apres les ms. Mosq. Syn. Bibl. 249 (XVIlJe s.) et 250 (XIve s.) par A. Veselovskii, Sbornik otdel. russkago iazyka i slovesnosti Imp. Akademii nauk 46 (1890) et 53 (1892), Prilozheniia. A noter que la Vie circule en Russie des Ie XIIe siecle,

29. Larges extraits ed, par S.G. Vilinskii, Zapiski novorossiiskago universiteta 7 (Odessa 1911), 5-142.


Ed. S. Lampros, Neos Helienomnemnn 3 (19$)6), 131-222, 256. Sur la date de redaction, cf. 1. Gouillard, Annuaire Ecole pro Htes Etudes, Sc. relig. 85 (1976-7), 368-9 ('une cinquantaine d'annees apres'),

Ed. I. Pomialovskii, Zhitie prep. Afanasiia (S. Petersbourg 1895). Voir O. Lemerle, 'La Vie ancienne de saint Athanase I'Athonite composee au debut du Xle siecle par Athanase de Lavra', MilMnaire du Mont Athos, 963-1963 (Chevetogne 1963), i.59-100.

Nicetas Stethatos, Vie de Symeon Ie Nouveau Theologien (949-1022), ed. I. Hausherr et G. Hom (OC 12 (1928)). Le personnage a ere eclaire par l'irnportante publication de ses oeuvres dans la collection Sources chretiennes; voir notamment I'introduction de B. Krivocheine dans Syrneon Ie Nouveau Theologian, Catecheses.es: B. Krivocheine et J. Paramelle (paris 1963-6), i.

ActaSS Jul. VI, 602-34.

BHG3, 180, et Auctarium 180b. La Vie (Vatic. 1660, 21IV-228) demeurait inedite en 1969, et connue a travers Ie Synaxaire de Constantinople (ActaSS Propyl. Novembris) 611.46-614. '

ActaSS Nov. IV, 692-705.

Ed. F. Kurt~, Zapiski imp. Akad. nauk'fo ist .-fiL otd. VIlle ser, vi. 1 (1902), 1-49, cf. BHG3. 1738. L'edition signalee par BHG .1737 ne m'a pas ete accessible.

Ed. W. Regel, Analecta byzantino-russica 2 (S. Petersbourg 1898),1-19.



33. 34.

35. 36.



Thomois de Lesbos39

sous Romain II



Theophano (imperatn'cej38


xe S.: laic ami de sa Laurent. Cony.

famille soppr. B I Camaldoli 1214, XIVe s.

Les Vies et fa societe

Les questions posees en commencant concernent d'une part le contenu des oeuvres, de l'autre leur diffusion effective, difficile a saisir parce que masquee a nos yeux par la facilite commune de I'imprime. Le contenu ne peut se comprendre sans reference aux modeles etablis anterieurement, La transition culturelle des Iye_yue siecles avait pose en effet les lois des recits hagtographiques.f " Dans Ie cadre d'une fidelite formelle, les oeuvres des Ixe-Xle siecles presentent des modifications indicatrices du changement qui s'est fait dans la societe et dans la culture. Pourtant, au regard du repertoire anterieur, on n'observe parmi les motifs employes ni disparition ni invention veritable. Mais Ie dosage est assez different pour conduire en fin de compte a l'impression d'une hagiographie devenue differente, tout comme la societe ou le saint remplit sa fonction. Car Ia societe byzantine a change. Les pouvoirs de la saintete, les rapports de celle-ci avec les pouvoirs politiques et sociaux ont change en consequence.

La Vie, dossier des preuves

Tout recit hagiographique est en premier lieu une illustration des pouvoirs du saint, et done un dossier des preuves de sa saintete, Celle-ci est parfois annoncee des le debut de la Vie. Le motif de la mere exaucee, comme Anna, apres une longue sterilite, se trouve dans la Vie de Pierre d'Atroa, que nous verrons constamment fidele au modele ancien. Ailleurs, ce sont des signes a la naissance. La sage-femme voit une marque sur Constantin de Synnada. Un pretre recoit une vision relative a Makarios de Pelekete. La venue au monde de Theophano, sainte et imperatrice, est marquee par une apparition de Marie a sa mere, mais aussi par le presage d'un aigle. Le theme de la sagesse precoce, qui rend le heros plus proche du vieillard que de l'enfan~ se developpe, d'autant mieux que I'insistance sur les etudes se fait plus grande. 1 Les miracles de la mort et de la sepulture en revanche restent fideles a la

38. Ed. E. Kurtz, 'Zwei yiechischen Texte iiber die HI. Theophano, die Germiihlin Kaisers Leo VI', Zapiski (cit. ci-dessus, n.36) Ville set. iii. 2(1898), 1-24.

39. ActaSS Nov. IV, 234-42.

40. Cf. I'etude classique de P.R.L. Brown, 'The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity', 61 (1971), 80-101. E. Patlagean, 'Ancienne hagiographie byzantine et histoire sociale', Annales ESC (1968), 106-26. En general, S. Boesch Gajano, Agiografia altomedioevale (Bologne 1976), 7-48, et M. Van Uytfanghe, 'Les avatars de l'hagiologie. A propos d'un ouvrage recent sur saint Severin du N orique', Francia 5 (1977). 639-71.

41. P. Lernerle, Le premier humanisme byzantin. Notes et remarques sur enseignement et culture a Byzance (Paris 1971), 242 et s., utilise notamment 1a Vie de Nikephoros de Milet. Voir aussi A. Moffatt, 'Schooling in the Iconoclast centuries', Iconoclasm op.cit.,

~~2 '




tradition bien etablie: prevision du moment par le saint, odeur de saintete, onguent curatif suintant du tombeau, ou de l'image. Ce demier motif s'est afflrme depuis la fin du VIe siecle, en meme temps que le role des images elles-memes dans la pratique religieuse.42 Tombeau et image ont en realite un role premier dans la sequence hagiographique, puisqu'ils sont au point de depart du culte, dont le recit ecrit est en quelque sorte le commentaire. A cet egard, le recit de la sepulture et de la translation de la moniale Theodora de Thessalonique doit etre signale pour son interet exceptionne1.43

Le plan ancien developpait longuement la prouesse ascetique inseparable de la retraite au desert, pour passer ensuite aux pouvoirs thaumaturgiques qui en etaient la recompense. Mais 1'aboutissement et l'encadrement monastiques de ce modele fonnent deja la lecon proposee par les Vies des moines de Palestine, composees au milieu du VIe siecle par Cyrille de Scythopolls+' deja le 'desert' y est interprete comme le lieu de deplacements fondateurs. 11 en va de merne dans les Vies des anciens stylites.45 Et 1'observation est encore plus vraie des Vies de notre epoque. Seule la Vie de Pierre d' A troa en effet conserve vraiment le motif traditionnel de l'ascese initiale au desert, pres d'un solitaire qui s'empresse d'ailleurs de lui faire donner la pretrise, II manque en revanche dans celles de Makarios de Pelekete ou Nikephoros de Medikion, qui deviennent pourtant des higoumenes comme lui. Pour Constantin de Synnada, Euthymios le jeune, Paul le jeune, Michel Maleinos, la prouesse ascetique suit l'entree au monastere, Elle deborde parfois l'autorite des higoumenes, Les difficultes qui naissent entre ceux-ci et Constantin de Synnada, Paul le jeune, ou Luc le jeune, signifient peut-etre la tension entre la tradition de la retraite dans la solitude et l'actualite de l'encadrement monastique. Le reseau des monasteres de 1'0lympe de Bithynie et de Ia peninsule athonite est balise par les deplacements ascetiques, comme celui du desert palestinien d'antan, bien que sur des distances sans doute plus gran des. L'hagiographie athonite en particulier montre bien que Ie monastere est Ia fin du recit, autrement dit Ie point de depart de sa production. L' obscur Pierre l' A thonite procure une reference deliberernent tMorique.46 Mais la Vie d'Athanase de Lavra atteste la repression de I'independance des solitaires par son heros.47

42. E. Kitzinger, 'The Cult of Images in the period before Iconoclasm', DOP 8 (1954),85-150; P.R.L. Brown, 'A Dark-Age Crisis: Aspects of the Iconoclastic Controversy', EHR 346 (1973), 1-34; Averil Cameron, 'Images of Authority: Elites and Icons in late sixth-century Byzantium', Past and Present 84 (1979), 3-35.

43. Par Ie clerc Gregorios auteur de la Vie, ed, Kurtz (cit. ci-dessus, n.36), 37-49 (BHC3.


44. Kyrillos von Skythopolis, ed. E. Schwartz, TU 49.2 (1939).

45. H. Delehaye, Les saints stylites (Bruxelles 1923).

46. Cf. Papachryssanthou, 'Vie ancienne de saint Pierre I'Athonite [ ... J', AnaiBo1l92 (1974).

47. Ch. 159, dont on note Ie ton acerbe; ch. 161-2: ralliernent de I'ermite Nicephore Ie Calabrais, dit le N u.



Ce qu'il advient du modele ancien

11 est des categories OU l'association du desert et de l'ascese ne trouvent pas de place, et ou la presence du monastere est aleatoire. Ce sont celles du laicat et de la ville, elles-memes diversement combinees, Philarete est eprouve comme Job, et c'est assez: Ie cloitre et la pretrise son absents de son histoire. Luc Ie Stylite se coupe les cheveux aupres d'un maitre en ascese, et recoit merne la pretrise tout en continuant d'assurer son service militaire; puis il pait des pourceaux, sejourne dans une grotte, et enfln monte sur une colonne, en province puis it Constantinople, ou plus exactement pres de Chalcedoine, II est vrai que sa sepulture se trouve au monastere de Bassianos. Pour Basile Ie Nouveau et Andre Ie Fou Volontaire, la saintete constitue une donnee initiale de la narration. Et ce sont des marginaux au regard de l'Eglise etablie. L'association de l'ascese au desert fait erlement defaut dans la saintete feminine, dont l'hagiographie se developpe alors," si ce n'est Ie rappel schematique d'un modele ancien dans la Vie de Theoctiste de Lesbos.49 Marie la jeune et Thomais de Lesbos sont eprouvees par le mariage meme, avant d'entrer au monastere, Les autres accedent it la saintete par le cloitre, qu'elles aient ete mariees ou non, it l'exception de Theophano, dont l'ascese individuelle sert it interpreter en fait ce que son hagiographe ne dit pas, mais qui etait notoire, son abandon par Leon VI. Theodora de Thessalonique devient sainte par la vertu specifiquement monastique de I'obeissance, Enfin, et surtout, la conquete de la saintete au desert n'a;as de role dans les Vies des patriarches de Constantinople, Nicephore et Ignatios.f et dans la serie des Vies stoudites, ou elle n'apporte qu'une reference initiale, it propos de Platon, et du jeune Theodore. II est vrai que les epreuves des confesseurs la remplacent pour Theodore et Nicolas. Mais Ie monastere de Stoudios est en fait au coeur de la capitale, et cette position meme est significative. L'elan original du monachisme citadin, aussi bien que les reticences et les interdictions qu'il avait suscitees,51 sont desormais du passe, tout com me l'illustration individuelle de l'anachorete, merne si la ville demeure un pole negatif dans Ie discours monastique sur la saintete, L'Eglise des moines a vaincu, et nul ne revendique cette victoire plus haut que les Stoudites. Le monastere est desormais suffisant, capable de contenir l'ascese dans ses murs et dans sa discipline. Quand un autre type de saintete se leve it l'aube du XIe siecle avec Symeon le Nouveau Theologien, dans lequella revelation est primordiale, son berceau est encore Ie Stoudiou. Et lorsque Symeon devient higoumene de S. Mamas, il ne cesse pas de se proclamer heritier de la tradition stoudite. Confirmation de cette tendance, les saints moines recoivent pratiquement tous la pretrise, ce qui n'est pas sans precedent, certes: la saintete s'integre plus que

48. ce. E. Patlagean, 'L'histoire de la femme deguisee en moine et l'evolution de la saintete feminine a Byzance', StM 17.2 (1976), 597-623.

49. ActaSS Nov. IV, 224-33, cf. BHC3 1723-26b. H. Delehaye, 'La Vie de sainte Theoctiste de Lesbos' (1924), Melanges (1966),299-306.

50. La Vie d'Euthymios est rnutilee au debut et a la fin.

51. Cf. G. Dagron, 'Les moines et la ville. Le monachisme a Constantinople jusqu'au concile de Chalcedoine (451)" TM 4 (1970), 229-76.



jamais tant a la comrnunaute monastique qu'a l'Eglise instituee tout entiere, Redigee en majeure partie par des moines, et pour l'illustration de l'Eglise monastique, l'hagiographie que nous lisons les renvoyait en un jeu de miroirs a leur propre image. En somme, si la mort et la sepulture du saint donnent lieu a des developpements fideles a la tradition, le modele ancien de conquete de la saintete apparait en revanche quelque peu erode et modifie,

Les miracles

Qu'en est-il du repertoire des miracles? A premiere lecture, il parait inchange dans ses grandes lignes: guerisons, par des operations diverses, de personnes souvent nommees, a tous les niveaux sociaux; mediations protectrices lors d'un incendie ou d'une ternpete; miracles de su bsistance et de resurrection; multiples faits de voyance. Le saint agit pendant sa vie, ou apres sa mort, a son tombeau. l'efficacite de ses apparitions et de ses images peintes se verifie dans l'une et l'autre situation. A mieux regarder pourtant, les proportions du modele se sont peut-etre modifiees, elles aussi, depuis l'epoque ou il avait ete calque sur le recit evangelique.

II n'est pas possible de proceder ici a une comparaison systematique avec ce dernier, et avec l'hagiographie ancienne. Mais elle mettrait en lumiere les variations d'un recit a l'autre: selon Ie lieu, capitale, ville de province, monastere isole; selon la position du saint; selon l'objet central du recit, et la part faite, en particulier, aux relations entre le saint et le pouvoir. On peut noter en general que l'inventaire des maladies n'est plus aussi riche, que les miracles de subsistance et de resurrection n'ont plus la meme place, et que la voyance acquiert au contraire une importance sans precedent, dans les rapports du saint avec le commun et avec le pouvoir. II suffit d'observer l'eclat donne a toutes les formes de voyance dans la definition de la saintete presentee par Niketas Stethatos, hagiographe de Symeon le Nouveau Theologien, mais aussi moine et pretre stoudite au milieu du XIe siecle.S2 Enfin, le saint vivant fait a l'occasion fonction de rnediateur entre les fideles et un autre saint, en fait a un niveau de culte tout different. Constantin de Synnada intercede ainsi aupres de S. Nicolas et de S. Spyridon, Makarios de Pelekete apres de S. Elie: le fait est significatif d'un systeme de representations religieuses suffisamment elabore pour que nous distinguions, sous une etiquette commune, entre les personnages du theatre sacre, et des hommes ou des femmes qui ont effectivement vecu aux Ixe-Xle siecles, en merne temps que les auteurs qui ont compose leurs Vies. En un mot, la vieille classification bollandiste etait en quelque rnaniere celle des Byzantins eux-mernes, et il convient en consequence d'en conserver un usage que l' on verra plus loin.

Tel est le canevas hagiographique de ces recits, qu'il etait necessaire de situer, au moins sommairement, dans leur tradition. Le pouvoir de la saintete y est, comme toujours, expose doublement. II est dernontre dans l'histoire meme du saint. Mais de plus, ou a vrai dire en premier lieu, la production merne de I'oeuvre hagiographique

52. Ed. citee ci-dessus, n.32, xxxiv-xxxv.